Every workplace has its fair share of challenges. When employees report their employers for illegal activity like harassment, discrimination or fraud, or if they file a worker’s compensation claim, they should not face any type of negative action.
The same state and federal laws that protect you as an employee from harassment and discrimination also protect you from workplace retaliation. But what exactly is workplace retaliation and how does it happen?
Understanding workplace retaliation
In basic terms, workplace retaliation refers to any adverse action or decision that an employer takes against an employee in response to that employee who exercises their protected employment rights. An employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a complaint, calling out an unlawful employment practice like misclassification, or cooperating with authorities during an investigation.
For an act to be deemed retaliatory, the following elements must be fulfilled:
- You took part in a protected activity that your employer was aware of
- The employer took an adverse action against you following your participation in the protected activity
- You suffered loss as a result of your employer’s adverse actions
Here are two examples of employer actions that may be deemed retaliatory:
1. Reassigning you to a different department, shift or workstation – Your employer has the right to assign you roles of shifts as the organization’s needs demand. However, if those reassignments are aimed at frustrating you, then you might want to find out their motivation.
2. Increased incidents of intimidation or bullying – Every employee deserves to work in a healthy work environment. However, if your employer or supervisor approaches you with claims like, “you better drop your claim or there will be unspecified consequences,” then you could be a victim of workplace retaliation.
If you believe your employer is taking prohibited retaliatory actions following your decision to participate in a protected employment activity, you need to act fast to protect your rights and interests.