Retaliation occurs when employers punish applicants, employees, or even former employees or treat them less favorably for:
reporting harassment and discrimination at the workplace
Opposing discrimination by threatening to a complaint or file a charge
For being a witness in an investigation or lawsuit involving discrimination
Punishment or Less Favorable Treatment Includes:
Transfer to a less desirable position
Reprimands and poor performance evaluations
Deprived of a raise
Exclusion from training or mentoring opportunities.
Verbal or physical abuse
Increased scrutiny at work
Actions that make it harder for the employee to do their jobs (in scheduling or responsibilities)
Threats to contact the police or report an employee’s immigration status
Attacks on the employee’s reputation
Repercussions on the employee’s family members
What Does Law Say About Retaliation?
Most people are aware of laws that protect employees from harassment and discrimination, but many don't know that these laws also protect them from retaliation. Legally employers cannot punish employees for reporting discrimination or harassment or participating in workplace investigations.
However, the Civil Rights Act specifies that an employee claiming retaliation can be dismissed lawfully. But to avoid retaliation damages, the employer must prove that their actions are not retaliation and are purely in response to legal action.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws say employers cannot discipline employees in the following situations.
Participating in an EEO complaint, charge, investigation, or lawsuit.
Being a witness during an employer investigation of alleged harassment at the workplace.
Informing a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination and harassment.
Refusing to carry out orders that might result in discrimination.
Finding possibly discriminatory earnings by asking supervisors or coworkers about their salaries.
Requesting accommodation for a disability or religious practice.
Refusing sexual approaches or stepping in to protect others.
Possible Damages Employers Might Pay in Retaliation Settlements
If an employer is guilty of discriminatory retaliation, they must compensate the employee. This restitution can take the form of-
Front pay for the salary/wages missed while the retaliation case is resolved.
Compensatory damages for mental distress.
Back pay for the expected and missed compensation during retaliation.