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What, exactly, is retaliation in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Employment Law

One way that employers can accomplish this important aim is by ensuring that employees can file complaints effectively when they’re being subjected to harassment, discrimination or illegal practices in the workplace. This can only be done if there’s a policy firmly in place that prohibits retaliation in response to certain protected actions and statuses.

Definition of retaliation

Employment retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for engaging in legally protected activities. These activities can include filing a complaint about workplace discrimination or harassment, participating in an investigation regarding workplace issues or asserting rights under labor laws.

Retaliation can manifest in various forms. These include termination, demotion, salary reduction, job or shift reassignment or other actions that negatively affect the employee’s job status or conditions.

Recognizing the signs of retaliation

Identifying retaliation can sometimes be challenging because it can be subtle or occur over time. Common signs include sudden negative performance reviews, exclusion from meetings or projects, changes in job duties or work hours that negatively impact the employee or workplace bullying.

Employees need to document any changes in their employment conditions that occur after engaging in protected activities. This documentation can be crucial in proving a retaliation claim.

Employers should ensure that their actions towards employees are always based on legitimate business reasons and not as a response to the employee’s protected activities. Maintaining clear, documented reasons for employment decisions is essential in defending against allegations of retaliation.

Navigating a retaliation claim

Claims of retaliation must be taken seriously. Employees should be empowered to reach out to appropriate administrators or company representatives to address the situation. If the matter isn’t resolved, those employees may opt to pursue a legal claim.

Regardless of what side of a concern a particular party is on, they should strongly consider seeking legal guidance from a skilled team that can review the facts of the case. They can then learn their options for handling the matter as efficiently and effectively as possible.