As an employee, you have the right to partake in certain activities at your workplace. You also have the right to equal treatment by your employer without discrimination on the basis of a protected status.
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes negative action against you for exercising your rights. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employer retaliation is against the law.
What are some circumstances under which an employer might retaliate?
An employer might retaliate against you if you reported wrongdoing at the company. Retaliation might also occur if you reported discrimination at the company, whether it affected you directly or not. An employer might also retaliate against you after you file a workers’ compensation claim. These are all actions that you have a right to take, and the law protects you from retaliation from your employer in response.
What forms can retaliation take?
Retaliation can include any negative actions that your employer takes to “punish” you for engaging in protected actions. Examples include passing you over for raises or promotions, docking your pay or reducing your hours.
Retaliation may occur either before or after your employment. For example, if an employer refused to hire you because you filed a complaint about the company, that would be an example of retaliation. An employer could also retaliate against you by firing you and then refusing to give you a reference or giving you one that was unfairly negative.
Even if the EEOC investigates your original complaint and finds that your employer did nothing wrong, you can still file a complaint about retaliation if your employer tries to punish you for the original protected action.