The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported this week the statistics for workplace discrimination cases it was involved with during fiscal year 2014. While discrimination cases overall declined, the number of retaliation cases increased to a record number.
Workplace retaliation cases accounted for 42.8 percent of all charges the filed with the EEOC, with race, sex, disability and age discrimination charges making up remaining top five categories.
Retaliation claims often arise when an employee makes a complaint regarding some illegal employment discrimination. The employer or their supervisors may recognize that they have done something wrong, and rather than correct the issue, will then attempt to "get" an employee.
Sometimes the employer simply fires the employee, apparently believing the problem will then go away. More often, they may make subtle or no-so-subtle threats or engage in harassment that makes continuing employment difficult for the employee.
The employee may suddenly suffer adverse job evaluations, be denied promotions, suffer a demotion or micro-management or reassignment. These actions may be structured to appear to be innocent, but are often the result of concerted activity by the employee's managers and supervisors.
This retaliation for engaging in a protected activity is illegal, but as the EEOC's statistics demonstrate, that does not stop it from happening. For the employee, such actions can cause a great deal of stress and tension in the workplace.
To successfully bring a retaliation claim to the EEOC or in a workplace discrimination lawsuit, the employee must provide detailed and unemotional evidence of the retaliation. Few employers will explicitly state they are engaging in retaliation, so it must be shown by inference and circumstance evidence.
The more detailed your facts are, the better. Emails, meeting agendas, job postings, even notes of phone conversations or other meetings can help create a record that can be used to prove retaliation.
Claimsjournal.com, "Top 10 Employment Discrimination Claims," EEOC, February 5, 2015