Workers have the right to a workplace that’s free of discrimination and harassment. Any worker who’s subjected to those situations has the right to speak up about them. However, some don’t because they fear being retaliated against.
The issue with staying quiet is that the behaviors are likely to continue. In order to protect workers, there are specific laws that forbid retaliation for making factual complaints and reports about the situation. Employers who retaliate or allow retaliation can face penalties.
What is retaliation?
Retaliation means any negative employment action that’s done as a response to an employee participating in a protected activity. The negative employment actions include a host of things, such as:
- Reduction in hours
- Lowering pay
- Moving to a less desirable shift or location
- Creating a hostile work environment
- Spreading rumors about the worker
- Increasing the scrutiny the worker faces
- Making work more difficult
The retaliation can come from many individuals in the organization, including supervisors, administrators and owners. They key point is that it must be related to the report of harassment or discrimination.
That doesn’t mean that employees who report harassment or discrimination have free range in the workplace. They must still keep up with their work duties and comply with company policies. Facing negative employment actions for valid reasons isn’t considered retaliation.
Anyone who’s faced harassment, discrimination or retaliation should contact an experienced employment law attorney. You have legal rights. Some of these have statutes of limitations, however. Therefore, it’s important to be sure to act quickly to avoid missing out on those deadlines.