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What Does Retaliation in the Workplace Look Like?

January 6, 2023 Wrongful Termination & Retaliation

Retaliation Can Be Subtle. Know the Signs.

It is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you for filing a complaint or engaging in other protected action, but it is unfortunately not unusual. It’s one of the most common reasons for filing a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Retaliation can be subtle—and you may not realize that your employer is unlawfully retaliating against you. Here are a few signs to look for.

What Actions Are Legally Protected From Retaliation?

If you recently took an action such as filing a complaint for harassment or participating in an investigation of wrongdoing by your employer, it’s possible that the behavior you’re seeing is indeed retaliation. You are supposed to be able to take certain actions in the workplace without worrying about your employer retaliating against you.

Protected actions in the workplace include:

  • Complaining about workplace discrimination, either internally or to an external agency such as the EEOC (even if your complaint ends up being judged unfounded).
  • Filing a lawsuit against your employer.
  • Participating or serving as a witness in EEOC litigation or investigations.
  • Cooperating with an internal investigation.
  • Acting as a whistleblower with regard to unsafe working conditions, illegal activity on the part of the employer, or other wrongdoing.
  • Taking FMLA leave or other legally entitled leave.
  • Filing a claim for workers’ compensation.

What Does Retaliation Look Like?

Retaliation can be obvious or subtle, and your employer may claim that a seemingly obvious example of retaliation—such as firing you—was done for reasons other than the protected action you took. However, they may be asked to prove that in court if action is brought against them.

Examples of retaliation include:

  • Firing you or threatening to, such as by placing you under a probationary period.
  • Assigning you less-desirable shifts, job duties or locations.
  • Advising other employees not to cooperate with you in doing your job.
  • Verbal or physical harassment, bullying, or intimidation.
  • Excluding you from work-related meetings or conversations.
  • Denying you opportunities such as promotions or raises.
  • Closely monitoring your work and being overly critical.
  • Giving you a negative review—especially when all your reviews were positive prior.
  • Reducing your hours or pay.

Experienced Retaliation? What To Do

Complaints of retaliation are very common. But they are also unlawful, and if you believe this has happened to you, you may be able to seek restitution in court.

Your first step should be to get in touch with a knowledgeable employment attorney. Your attorney can help you hold your employer accountable. Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.