Workplace Retaliation

Workplace Retaliation

Workplace retaliation refers to an employer punishing or taking a negative action against an employee for participating in “protected activity,” such as –

  • filing a charge or complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) body
  • being a witness to an investigation
  • refusing to follow any instructions that may result in discrimination
  • asking employers for salary information
  • or even resisting sexual advances

Employees, who experience discrimination and/or harassment, have the right to report the activity either to their employer or to an authority, like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They are also protected against employer retaliation under law.

Employer retaliation may appear as –

  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Job or shift reassignment
  • Salary reduction
  • Discipline

Workplace retaliation may be difficult to detect. For instance, if you complain about your manager’s discrimination and his or her attitude changes, you can tell. However, if they become more professional toward you as well as others, that may not be considered retaliation because they simply aren’t as friendly as before. At the same time, if the manager’s actions have a negative effect on your employment, it would become retaliatory.

There can be even more subtle acts of retaliation. Examples include –

  • unfair performance reviews
  • exclusion from important team meetings
  • constant micromanagement

If you suspect you are a victim of workplace retaliation, ask your supervisor or HR representative for an explanation. If your supervisor or employer can’t provide a valid explanation, share that you suspect you are being retaliated against and request it to be stopped. If there is still no action on your request, consult a workplace retaliation or employment law attorney right away.

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