What all employees need to know about retaliation

Many people are afraid to complain about potentially unlawful treatment for fear of losing their jobs. That same impulse may also keep people from speaking up on behalf of their coworkers.

Under federal law, it’s generally unlawful for a company to retaliate against employees who oppose illegal activity. However, that’s not always enough to deter supervisors from trying to “get back” at employees who draw attention to problems.

Let’s take a look at what all workers should know about unlawful retaliation.

What is Retaliation?

In simple terms, employers are generally prohibited from punishing job applicants or employees for asserting their rights under federal equal opportunity laws.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employees are generally protected from retaliation after:

  • filing or participating in a discrimination charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit
  • communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination, including harassment
  • answering questions during an investigation of alleged harassment
  • refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
  • resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others
  • requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice
  • asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.

Different Forms of Retaliation

While termination and demotion are the most obvious forms of retaliation, there are many other ways that retaliation may play out.

For example, an employee may be transferred to an undesirable position or location, or he or she may suddenly be exposed to additional scrutiny.

The EEOC also lists the following as other forms of retaliation:

  • reprimanding the employee or giving a performance evaluation that is lower than it should be
  • engaging in verbal or physical abuse
  • threatening to make or actually making reports to authorities about the employee (such as reporting immigration status or contacting the police)
  • spreading false rumors about the employee or treating an employee’s family member negatively (for example, canceling a contract with the person’s spouse)
  • making the person’s work more difficult (for example, by purposefully changing his or her work schedule to conflict with family responsibilities)

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you believe that you have been retaliated against after making a complaint, it’s wise to speak to an attorney to find out about your rights.

Email us at murphy@phillyemploymentlawyer.com, or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.