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What constitutes retaliation in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Uncategorized |

The balance between employers being able to run a company how they feel is best and providing employees with a safe workplace is sometimes hard to maintain. Specific laws are in place to make it clearer for both sides to know exactly what conduct is protected.

One aspect of employment laws that is very clear has to do with the right of employees to file complaints and reports about activities, such as harassment or discrimination. Employers aren’t legally allowed to retaliate against employees who do those things, or who engage in any other legally-protected activity. The basis of retaliation is found in the cause-and-effect relationship between the employee’s engagement in protected activities and the employer’s adverse reaction.

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer takes negative action against an employee for engaging in legally protected activities. Retaliation encompasses a range of actions including firing, demoting, reassigning and any other actions that adversely affect the employee’s terms of employment.

Recognizing protected activities

Employers and employees must understand what types of activities can’t be retaliated against by the employer. Protected activities generally include:

  • Reporting illegal actions within the workplace
  • Participating in investigations related to workplace discrimination or harassment
  • Asserting rights under labor laws

All parties must understand what activities are protected to prevent unintentional retaliatory actions and to ensure that employees can report issues without fear of repercussions.

Tips for preventing and addressing retaliation

Employers should create and enforce anti-retaliation policies that clearly define retaliation and its consequences. These guidelines must be communicated across all levels of the organization to ensure comprehensive understanding and adherence. Regular training for managers and supervisors on identifying and avoiding retaliation is equally important, as is instructing them on properly handling complaints.

Employees should be informed about their rights regarding reporting workplace issues and participating in investigations. Detailed records of any incidents believed to be retaliatory, including dates, times and potential witnesses, can be vital for substantiating claims.

Employers and employees should take retaliation claims seriously. If things aren’t corrected, an employee may take legal action, and the employer may fight those claims. Legal representation may be beneficial to both sides so they can learn their rights and options for proceeding efficiently and effectively.