Employer Retaliation


In 2010 for the first time ever, retaliation was the most frequently filed charge with the EEOC. Of the over 99,000 charges filed, retaliation under all statutes totaled 36,258. Historically, race had been the most frequently filed charge since the EEOC became operational in 1965.


Check out the following policy on retaliation:


“A supervisor or employee may not retaliate against employees in any way for registering a concern or complaint. Retaliation, in the context of this policy, is an adverse employment action against an employee because the employee has lodged or supported a complaint. Examples of strictly prohibited retaliatory action include: disciplining, changing the work assignment of, providing inaccurate work information to, or refusing to cooperate or discuss work-related matters with any employee because that employee has registered a complaint; or intentionally pressuring, falsely denying, lying about or otherwise covering up or attempting to cover up conduct such as that described above.”


Employers can make serious mistakes against their employees in three major areas: discrimination, harassment and retaliation. 


Retaliation is an adverse action that an employer takes against an employee because the employee complained about discrimination, harassment or some other major offense. Retaliation is employer "payback", a low-down way to punish employees for reporting poor work conditions, employer wrong-doing, etc. The risk to the retaliating employer could include a new charge brought against them or even a lawsuit against the employer.


Why Is Retaliation Such a Growing Problem?

Everyone is a lawyer nowadays. The internet provides extensive access to laws and articles about the law. Employees in the modern workplace generally know their rights and will often stand up for themselves and their co-workers.


How Can an Employer Minimize the Risk of a Retaliation Claim?


1.  Education and communication are key factors. Here are some proactive steps that an employer can take to minimize the risk:

2.  Explicitly prohibit retaliation in written employment policies.

3.  Publish and follow complaint and grievance procedures.

4.  Immediately address employee complaints consistent with those protocols.

5.  Provide special training for all supervisors on the issue.

6.  Work with employees who engage in any protected conduct to bring the matter to satisfactory resolution.

7.  Maintain accurate and complete documentation.


Simple lesson learned: Considering retaliating against an employee can land you in much hotter water, than simply dealing with the employee complaint in a professional manner in the first place.

(Resource: Retaliation: When Employer ‘Payback’ May Pay Off for the Employee)