Abramson Labor Group – Retaliation

You have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It doesn’t matter if you’re the victim or a witness, employment discrimination laws offer several protections. One of them protects you from retaliation. When you report unlawful employment behaviors or practices, the company, co-worker, client, or whoever you’ve reported cannot retaliate. If they do, that’s illegal and you have additional grounds for a complaint or lawsuit.

Retaliation is a leading form of employment discrimination. The EEOC received more than 15,000 employment discrimination complaints during both 2012 and 2013. In 2012, 47% of those 15,837 complaints were for retaliation. In 2013, 48% of the 15,226 complaints involved retaliation.

When an employer or someone within a company retaliates, the victims are often fired, demoted, or harassed. An employer cannot refuse a deserved promotion on the grounds that the employee reported employment discrimination in the past. A manager cannot refuse to give an upcoming pay raise in response to an employee’s complaint against management.

What Retaliation Laws Cover

Employment discrimination laws make it illegal to make business-related employment decisions based on someone’s gender, race, religious beliefs, disability, pregnancy, age, etc. Employees with a company cannot be harassed for those same reasons. If they are, they and anyone who witnesses it can file a complaint and ask for an investigation. These are some of the reasons retaliation starts.

  • The worker asks management or human resources to see salary information to see if wage discrimination is occurring.
  • The worker asks to be accommodated due to religious beliefs or a disability and files a complaint when management refuses that request despite having the financial means to meet the request.
  • The worker serves as a witness or answering questions in an EEOC or employment investigation.
  • The worker steps in to protect a co-worker who is being sexually harassed.
  • The victim is being sexually harassed and refuses the advances.
  • The worker talks to a supervisor about employment discrimination and the supervisor tells others who retaliate.

These are examples of real cases where an employer retaliated against an employee.

A police officer was sexually harassed by a supervisor. When she filed a complaint, she was disciplined and forced to resign from that department. The EEOC ruled in her favor and forced the department to pay a settlement and revamp their anti-harassment policy.

A college forced a professor to resign after she filed a gender discrimination complaint with the college.

A banker was fired without reason or warning after she assisted a co-worker in filing a racial discrimination complaint concerning a training video that was racially insensitive. In addition to a $110,000 judgment in her favor, the financial institution also had to add retaliation training to its training program.

A religious organization fired a communications specialist after she reported several cases of race discrimination to the organization’s human resources department. She was fired soon after. The EEOC investigated and filed a lawsuit regarding retaliatory behavior on the organization’s part.

A company refused to allow an employee to use a company vehicle after that employee filed a complaint. Removal of a normal employee benefit was a retaliatory act that was illegal.

Other ways a company or management team may retaliate include:

  • Adding additional work duties to overwhelm the employee
  • Altering a work schedule to make it harder for the employee to attend meetings or make it to work on time
  • Giving lower performance ratings after someone files a complaint or serves as a witness in an EEOC investigation
  • Reducing work hours when no one else is getting work hours cut
  • Scrutinizing the employee more than in the past
  • Spreading rumors about the employee
  • Threatening to report the employee for things like child neglect or immigration status

Sometimes, the retaliatory action doesn’t affect the employee directly. If the company works with a relative of that employee and suddenly cancels the contract, targeting a relative of the employee could be construed as retaliation even though the action affected someone else.

Filing a Complaint

Don’t let embarrassment or fear keep you from seeking justice. If you face retaliation at work, you must stand up for your rights. The EEOC is the first place to go if you’re a victim of retaliation in the workplace. They will investigate your claim and decide to file a lawsuit or give you a right to sue letter.

Your next step should be to talk to an expert in employment discrimination and retaliation. Abramson Labor Group is a champion in retaliation cases. Let them protect your rights and help you gain justice. Schedule a no-charge consultation with the employment law attorneys.