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What is retaliation in the workplace?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2024 | Employment Law

Certain behaviors in the workplace, such as sexual harassment, certain kinds of discrimination and retaliation, are all forbidden by law. When employees see those behaviors unfolding, they should step up to report them.

Yet, some employees are understandably concerned that their reports of illegal behavior will be met with negative employment actions. Those individuals should realize that retaliation is forbidden when it’s in response to an employee taking part in a protected activity, which includes making reports or participating in investigations about illegal activities.

Retaliation takes many forms

With that said, there are many forms of retaliation that employees can be subjected to, even though this kind of conduct is unlawful. Some are rather bold and obvious. These include things like termination, demotion or cutting their pay. It can also take forms that are a bit less obvious, such as changing a work shift, spreading rumors about the employee or having meetings without them when they would normally participate in the meeting.

Keeping track of the retaliatory measures and when they happened may be beneficial if they opt to pursue legal action. Paycheck stubs can show pay cuts or a decrease in hours after the protected activity. Having statements from coworkers about any retaliatory behavior they spot may also be vital in these cases.

Limitations of retaliation claims

Employees aren’t free to do anything they want just because they participated in a protected event. They can still face disciplinary action if they do things that would lead to any other employee getting in trouble. For example, if an employee who participates in a protected activity is late to work three days in a row, they can still face a write up, suspension or any other disciplinary measure as long as the same would apply for any employee who’s late three days.

Anyone who feels that they have been retaliated against at work should explore their legal options to address the retaliation. Having a legal representative can help them to protect their rights as they wage a complex battle against their employer. Seeking legal guidance as early as possible in the process can help a wronged worker to determine the best course of action under the circumstances.