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What Is Retaliation in the Workplace?

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer fires or takes any other type of adverse action against an employee for engaging in protected activity.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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What are Some Examples of Workplace Retaliation?

Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for exercising their rights protected under the law. Activities that may lead to workplace retaliation may include:

  1. Refusing to commit illegal acts despite your employer’s direction or request to do so
  2. Requesting or taking a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  3. Filing a claim against your employer with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO)
  4. Complaining to your employer about workplace discrimination or harassment
  5. Whistleblowing against your employer to thwart illegal or fraudulent practices
  6. Filing for workers’ compensation benefits
  7. Participating as a witness in an EEOC or any other legal case against your employer

If you faced undue consequences or noticed other signs of retribution after engaging in any of the above acts, you may have grounds for a workplace retaliation claim.

Related Article: Workplace Harassment Lawsuit

What is Considered a Protected Activity?

A person engages in protected activity in the workplace when they:

  1. Oppose a practice they consider to be discriminatory
  2. Participate in an employment discrimination proceeding
  3. Engage in other protected EEO activity

Related Article: Protected Classes in California

What to do if You’ve Been Retaliated Against in the Workplace

If you’ve been the victim of workplace retaliation, you should contact an employment lawyer for legal advice immediately. Many employment laws have their own protocol to follow, and not adhering to them can jeopardize your legal rights.

State and federal anti-discrimination laws mandate that you report complaints to the human resources department first. If this step is not followed, it can threaten your workplace retaliation case.

If the claim falls under Title VII, the next step is to file a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which will mediate between you and your employer in an attempt to resolve the issue.

If no such resolution is agreed upon, or if your employer fails to act in good faith, EEOC will investigate the matter. Following the investigation, the agency may take over the case for you or may issue a Right to Sue Letter, which allows you to take your claim to court.

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