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Retaliation in the workplace isn’t tolerable

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2024 | Uncategorized

Retaliation in the workplace is a critical issue that occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in legally protected activity. This can include anything from filing a complaint about workplace discrimination to investigating the company’s practices.

Understanding the boundaries of legal and illegal retaliation is crucial for employees. It can help to ensure that they can exercise their rights as effectively as possible. Retaliation can take many forms. Identifying when it becomes unlawful is key to protecting the rights of employees and upholding the integrity of the workplace.

What is retaliation in the workplace?

Retaliation in the workplace refers to any adverse action an employer, supervisor or manager takes against an employee for engaging in a protected activity. Protected activities include:

  • Filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment
  • Participating in a workplace investigation
  • Taking legally-protected leave from work
  • Supporting a coworker’s complaint about a protected activity

Adverse actions by an employer can include demotion, pay reduction, job or shift reassignment. It’s sometimes possible that more subtle forms like exclusion from meetings or unwarranted negative evaluations may occur. Employers may also do things like speak negatively about the employee to others in a way that creates a hostile work environment.

When is retaliation illegal?

Retaliation becomes illegal due to an employee’s engagement in protected activities under various employment laws. For instance, if an employee files a sexual harassment complaint and subsequently faces demotion or unjustified negative performance reviews, this would likely be considered illegal retaliation.

The critical factor is the link between the employee’s protected activity and the employer’s adverse action. Employers can still take disciplinary action against workers who don’t comply with company regulations or rules.

Navigating retaliation issues

Employees who believe they have been retaliated against should document the incidents. If internal resolution isn’t possible, they may consider filing a complaint with the appropriate government agency.

Having the assistance of someone familiar with these matters is beneficial. They can help wronged employees learn their options, determine how these may affect the employee and help as they work through the process of getting the issue addressed.