We Protect Workers

What should employees know about retaliation?

Retaliation in the workplace occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in legally protected activity. This could include demotion, termination, salary reduction, job or shift reassignments or other actions that would discourage a reasonable person from making or supporting a complaint about discrimination.

Retaliation is a form of punishment directed at employees who exercise their rights under various employment and anti-discrimination laws. When legal protections designed to safeguard the fundamental right of workers to raise concerns about unfair treatment or engage in legally-protected activity without fear of retribution is compromised, affected workers may be in a position to take legal action.

Protected classes and activities

Protected classes refer to specific characteristics legally protected from discrimination, including race, religion, sex, age and disability. Laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) safeguard these rights, ensuring individuals can assert their protections without fear of adverse consequences.

Protected activities include – but are absolutely not limited to – actions that employees might take in response to perceived discrimination or harassment. These include filing a complaint with their employer, participating in an investigation or lawsuit regarding workplace discrimination or opposing discriminatory practices.

Steps to take if retaliated against

If employees believe they’re being retaliated against, they must understand the steps to take to protect themselves and their rights. Initially, documenting the retaliation is vital. This involves keeping detailed records of the retaliatory actions, including dates, times, locations and any witnesses to the events. Documentation can serve as valuable evidence if legal action becomes necessary.

Next, reporting the retaliation to the appropriate organizational authorities, such as a supervisor or human resources department, is essential. This formally notifies the employer of the issue and allows the organization to address and rectify the situation.

Understanding retaliation and the protections available is crucial for employees navigating the complexities of workplace dynamics. If retaliation does occur, employees can take legal action. Legal guidance can provide valuable information and assistance for getting this done within the time limits required by law.