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Many people have an idea of what discrimination in the workplace is. But while discrimination claims on the basis of sex, race, age or another protected category are a serious issue, the most common type of discrimination claim is something else: retaliation.

In fiscal year 2018 alone the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recorded 4,344 discrimination charges in the state of California. Retaliation claims accounted for half of those, outpacing complaints related to any protected category. That rate mirrors federal figures as well. What qualifies as retaliation might surprise you.

Retaliation can be subtle

Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes, penalizes or harasses a worker because they were involved in a discrimination claim. Some retaliatory behaviors are obvious, actions such as threats, demotions or firings. It is also illegal for an employer to make work conditions terrible in order to get someone to quit. This is called constructive discharge.

But retaliation can take more subtle forms. A manager abruptly assigning the employee to more difficult shifts, for example, or giving noticeably worse performance reviews without explanation. The EEOC provides some other specific instances from real cases, including:

  • Managers involved in a discrimination complaint trying to influence whether that employee would later get a promotion
  • A manager taking away the use of a government car after an employee filed a complaint – while letting another worker continue to use the vehicle
  • An employee’s discrimination complaint being described by superiors as “unprofessional,” “highly offensive” and “bad for morale.”

Retaliation claims

According to the EEOC, the number of discrimination-related findings based on a retaliation claim has outpaced other types of discrimination claims recently. The commission also points out that, in many cases, a straightforward discrimination claim might fail – only for the follow-up retaliation claim to end with a discrimination finding.

When employers retaliate, it isn’t always obvious. If you believe behavior at your workplace may be considered retaliatory, it might be a good idea to talk to an attorney to determine your options.

It is a sad truth that not all appointed executors are up to the task. Some people are blindsided by the position, completely unaware their loved one chose them until the event of their death. Others think they can handle it but grief or an uncontrollable circumstance leaves them overwhelmed.

If you think the executor of a will is overburdened, unqualified, or simply the wrong person for the job, can you remove them? Is there a way to do so compassionately?

Why would you need to remove an executor?

Executors are sometimes the deceased’s spouse, adult child, parents or friend. Although your loved one may have trusted them when they wrote their will, circumstances can change.

The following are reasons you may want to remove an executor:

  • The person is not mentally sound.
  • The person is not financially responsible.
  • The person’s relationship with the deceased or their beneficiaries changed significantly before their death.
  • The person lives far away and is therefore unable to make deadlines. (California does not have an in-state residency requirement for executors, but distance can make things difficult.)
  • The person neglects their fiduciary duties regarding the estate.

There is a narrow window of time to remove an executor from the position before they do irreparable damage to the estate (either intentionally or unintentionally). You may need legal assistance to approach them with your concerns.

How can you communicate with them compassionately?

Know that many wills or estate plans name a backup executor who can serve in the event the first choice cannot. A legal advisor can help you find and prepare this person, or if you are that person, they can help you prepare a discussion with the current executor.

Your discussion can center around your concern for the estate, the beneficiaries, the person’s legacy or even important upcoming deadlines and the real consequences for missing them. They have a legal responsibility to perform their duties to the best of their ability. It might not be their fault that their best isn’t compatible with what the estate needs.

An advisor can help guide this discussion in private or in front of a judge. If you need to remove an executor of an estate, learn about your legal options.