What is employment retaliation?

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2023 | Employee Rights |

Workplace dynamics can sometimes include tension and conflicts, especially when employees feel the need to report unethical or illegal conduct. Those employees are protected from retaliation in the workplace, which occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for participating in a protected activity, such as filing a complaint about harassment, discrimination or unsafe working conditions.

While the law protects against retaliation, it’s crucial to remember that these protections aren’t a shield against legitimate workplace disciplinary actions. An employee who has reported misconduct isn’t immune to termination or discipline for valid, non-retaliatory reasons. For this reason, workers should always continue to do their job duties as required, regardless of their participation in a protected activity.

Types of retaliatory behavior

Retaliation in the workplace takes many forms. One form is a sudden decrease in performance ratings post-complaint. If an employee who consistently receives favorable evaluations suddenly gets a poor review after engaging in a protected activity, this could be a sign of retaliation.

A more subtle form of retaliation could involve changing job responsibilities, work locations or hours. For example, an employee who filed a complaint is suddenly given less desirable tasks or removed from projects they were initially assigned.

Being deliberately left out of important meetings or discussions that pertain to one’s job could also be considered retaliation. These can significantly hinder an employee’s ability to perform their job duties and grow within the company.

A direct and impactful form of retaliation involves cutting the employee’s salary or demoting them. These actions are designed to have immediate financial repercussions and are often used to force employees to rescind their complaints.

Understanding the boundaries and limitations of anti-retaliation protections can empower employees to stand up for their rights while maintaining their professional responsibilities. It’s a delicate balance essential for fostering a fair and just workplace. Workers subjected to retaliation have legal rights, so they should consider seeking legal guidance to help them understand and assert those rights as quickly as possible after they realize what’s going on.

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