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Employee retaliation may be insidious!
October 08, 2010


Employee Rights News You Can Use



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Date October 7, 2010

Issue #19



Employee retaliation may be insidious! Part 1

According to the (EEOC) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, retaliation claims have increased approximately 100% from 1992-2006! Retaliation claims now comprise 30% of the total charges filed. These claims are now pushing race discrimination for the top spot.

What is retaliation?

If your boss punishes you for being involved in legally protected activity it becomes retaliation. I thank GOD this blatant form of harassment is illegal. I have had first hand experience with being retaliated against by my employer. Retaliation can take on many disguises, such as;

  • unfair or inaccurate job evaluations
  • inappropriate discipline
  • unjustified shift change
  • demotion
  • reduced salary
  • job reclassification
  • bullying (intimidation)
  • termination

You may not believe this but it is absolutely true. I have experienced every one of the aforementioned adverse actions from my employer! Those who know my story marvel at the fact I'm still employed. I give first credit to GOD Almighty for giving me the wisdom to Learn Basic Employee Rights! That is why I'm so passionate about raising awareness and educating others to do likewise.

Workplace retaliation can very insidious and subtle. There are three basic areas involving retaliation, they are...

  • Protected activity
  • Adverse employment action
  • Casual connection


Protected Activity

In Protected activity there are two different elements: opposition and participation
Here are some examples of Participation:

  • helping co-workers with discrimination claims
  • talking to a (EEO) Equal Employment Opportunity officer
  • being a likely witness
  • talking about filing a complaint

Employees have been given a wide berth when it comes to protected activity in participation. Typically, when involved in any investigation, hearing, providing testimony, assisting someone else or making a claim the employee is protected from retaliation.

Here are some examples of Opposition:

  • peace protests (picketing)
  • inquiring if gender is the reason for an employment action
  • declining to perform an assigned task believed to be discrimination
  • requesting a reasonable accommodation
  • expressing intent to file a complaint

The one issue with opposition is that is has to be "reasonable". I know, what is deemed "reasonable". Well the following and hopefully some common sense, which isn't so common anymore, will explain better. These are some NON PROTECTED actions not considered "reasonable" opposition by the employee.

  • violating established employer policy
  • willfully undermining company business activity
  • refusing to comply with non discriminatory commands
  • abusive or violent protests

There is a significant difference between "participants" and "opposers". "Opposers must act in "good faith" or honest intent when believing the boss has violated their employee rights. However, "participants" usually do not have to share a belief of wrongdoing on the part of the employer. For example, a co-worker is protected in assisting my investigation of the boss violating my (ADA) Americans with Disabilities Act rights without believing or knowing my rights have been violated.

Next month I will explain the #2 and #3 areas involving retaliation, "Adverse Action" and "Casual connection".

More Blessings To Come!


Employee Rights Educator, Coach, Trainer, Advocate, Webmaster =================================================

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Written by Yancey Thomas Jr.


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