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What is retaliation and how can it cause problems?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2023 | Employment Law

Employees have the right to a workplace that’s free of harassment and discrimination. It’s up to employers to set rules that forbid those types of behaviors.

Any employee who experiences one of those things or who notices that laws aren’t being complied with at the company has the right to speak up about the matter. Those who participate in investigations into protected activities are also protected from retaliation. Companies are highly recommended to have a policy that forbids retaliation.

Retaliation: A negative employment action

Retaliation is any negative employment action that’s a direct result of a protected action. Some forms of retaliation are subtler than others, but they can still lead to problems for your company. Examples of retaliation include:

  • Termination
  • Wage cuts
  • Hour cuts
  • Moving to a less desirable location, shift or position
  • Making the workplace hostile
  • Unfavorable reviews that aren’t warranted
  • Spreading rumors about the employee

One important point for employers to know is that employees who participated in a protected activity can still be disciplined as long as the measures taken are noted in the policies and apply to all workers. For example, a worker who doesn’t show up for work and doesn’t call off can still be written up or terminated for that as long as any worker who does the same thing would have the same thing happen. Such an adverse employment action is not a direct result of any protected activity.

It behooves employers to ensure they have a clear record of all negative employment actions so they can produce those if an employee alleges retaliation after being terminated or experiencing other adverse actions. Having a companywide policy that encourages employees to speak up about protected actions and that strictly forbids retaliation in all forms can also help. Work with someone who can help you to protect your business against these matters.