What Are Some Examples of Retaliation in the Workplace?

Posted by Sessions & Kimball |

Workplace retaliation is an unfortunate reality for many employees. When you are subjected to retaliation, it can feel isolating, infuriating, and stressful, but fortunately, there are legal protections available.

What is Workplace Retaliation?

Workplace retaliation refers to…when an employer (through a manager, supervisor, administrator or directly) fires an employee or takes any other type of adverse action against an employee for engaging in protected activity… An adverse action is an action which would dissuade a reasonable employee from raising a concern about a possible violation or engaging in other related protected activity.”

These protected activities could include filing a complaint about harassment or discrimination, whistleblowing on illegal practices, participating in workplace investigations or supporting others protesting employment bias. 

Examples of adverse employment actions include demotions, pay decreases, harassment, or even termination. The key is that the action must be tied to a protected activity and must have a negative effect on your employment.

Examples of Workplace Retaliation

To better understand retaliation, it’s helpful to explore specific scenarios where it can occur. Here are some examples of retaliatory actions:

  1. Demotion: An employee reports instances of sexual harassment to HR, and soon after, they are demoted to a lower position with less responsibility and lower pay.
  2. Exclusion: After filing a wage complaint, an employee is purposely excluded from important meetings, company events, and opportunities for advancement.
  3. Negative evaluations: An employee uses FMLA leave to care for a sick parent and then receives unjustifiably poor performance reviews, hindering their potential for promotions or raises.
  4. Increased workload: In response to an employee supporting a coworker’s discrimination claim, their manager starts assigning excessive work with unreasonable deadlines, in an apparent attempt to make the employee fail.
  5. Termination: An employee organizes a union and is suddenly fired as a result, without being provided a legitimate reason for termination.

It’s important to note that not every negative action or unfair treatment is considered retaliation. 

What To Do If You’re Experiencing Retaliation 

If you are experiencing workplace retaliation, addressing it promptly and correctly is critical. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:

Document everything: Make a detailed list of every incident that felt retaliatory. Include specific behaviors or actions taken against you, when and where it happened, any witnesses present, and how the incidents have affected your work environment or position.

Follow company policy: Consult your employee handbook or ask HR about set procedures for reporting retaliation at work.

Report to HR: Share the problems with Human Resources by writing a detailed complaint based on your records.

File with EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission): If talking to HR doesn’t help, report the issue to this agency – they’ll examine whether you have grounds for making formal charges against your employer.

Remain Professional and Continue Doing Your Job: Despite the difficult circumstances, strive to maintain professional conduct and continue performing your job duties to the best of your ability. By doing so, you’re not only protecting your professional reputation but also creating a stronger case for your retaliation claim by showcasing your dedication and commitment.

Hire an employment attorney: Lastly, seek legal advice. An attorney can guide you through the process of protecting yourself legally from further retaliation or getting compensation if applicable.

Unfortunately, retaliation still occurs in many workplaces. If you believe you’re experiencing this in your workplace, our Orange County workplace retaliation attorneys here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.