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Are You Being Retaliated Against?
August 07, 2010

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Employee Rights News You Can Use

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Date August 7, 2010

Issue #17

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Article

Are you being retaliated against?

Retaliation is now almost as prevalent as race discrimination in the workplace. There has been a dramatic increase of complaints filed with the (EEOC) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

What is Retaliation?

When our employers punish us for taking part in a legally protected activity it becomes retaliation. Employees are protected by federal law when complains about harassment or discrimination are made. This applies whether the complaint is made to the employer or an outside agency such as the EEOC. If you participate in an EEOC investigation, lawsuit or as a witness the law protects you. Employees who alert others about workplace violations or unsafe working conditions are protected by other "whistleblower" laws.

Unfortunately, many courageous men and women that display strength of character by not keeping silent in the face of workplace injustice are routinely persecuted, harassed and terminated. That's why some elements of corporate America have sought to demonize the term "whistleblower", even when speaking out has saved lives!

How can I recognize if I'm being retaliated against?

Sometimes retaliation can be "in your face" or it can be hiding "behind the scenes". For example, you complain about your manager violating your (FMLA) Family Medical Leave Act rights and soon after you receive your first ever negative job evaluation. This would appear to be clearly retaliatory. Another situation could involve an employee complaining about sexual harassment being moved to another company location away from a harassing manager. The employee now has to drive several miles more to work than before.

However, the action taken was not retaliation because it was found to be a reasonable response to the harassment complaint. The key to a retaliation complaint is the employee must suffer a "materially adverse action". The following are examples of potentially adverse actions;

  • Lower performance review (job evaluation)
  • Transfer to less desirable position
  • Less benefits
  • Undesirable change of work schedule
  • Demotion
  • Bullying by management
  • Termination

If you believe retaliation is aimed at you, address your concerns with the manager/supervisor. If this fails talk to Human Resources for a clear understanding of why adverse action has or is taking place. As employees we have every right to ask specific questions about our jobs. If our employers don't or won't give reasonable answers to our concerns then voicing a belief of retaliation may be in order.

It's reasonable to assume your boss will not admit retaliating against you. Therefore, the next step may be to contact the EEOC or seek legal counsel. You will need to show a link between your original complaint such as gender discrimination and the adverse action taken against you.

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PUBLISHING SCHEDULE

Your Basic Employee Rights eNews is published the first week of the month, 12 weeks per year. From time to time we will publish special features that affect employees in the workplace. We may also offer third party resources that will be of benefit to you our valued subscriber.

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