In the U.S., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) protects the rights of workers who may face unfair treatment from their employers.
The EEOC’s protections are especially important for workers who have an employer that uses its power in ways that are harassing or discriminatory. When an employer’s behavior is especially unfair after an employee has raised concerns about discrimination or harassment, or sought an accommodation based on disability or religion, the EEOC may consider that behavior retaliation, and there may be consequences under the law.
What is retaliation?
Under the laws the EEOC oversees, employers are prohibited from taking purposeful, adverse actions against present or future employees who are trying to exercise their rights as workers to complaint about discrimination or harassment or to seek accommodation based on disability or religion.
What are examples of protected actions by workers?
The EEOC protects workers’ rights by prohibiting employers from punishing employees or would-be employees for activities such as:
- Reporting or threatening to report discrimination
- Providing information about an alleged act of discrimination
- Speaking with an employer about discrimination compliance
- Requesting reasonable accommodations for disability or religion.
Additionally, the EEOC protects employees who may be dealing with unwanted sexual advances in the workplace.
What are examples of employer retaliation?
Retaliation on the part of employers can take many forms. In addition to reprimands or low-performance evaluations, retaliation may involve employee transfers to less-desired positions, verbal and/or physical abuse, increased work scrutiny or changes to work schedules that conflict with family responsibilities, demotions or even termination.
Retaliation protections apply to a wide range of employees. In addition to full-time workers, EEOC protections may apply to job applicants, part-time or temporary employees and workers who may not have citizenship or work authorization status.