It is illegal to retaliate against an employee who files a complaint of discrimination for race, color, disability, age, national origin, gender, or sexual harassment. This is true even if it is found that the discrimination did not occur. For example, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to promote an employee or fire the employee because she filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or a lawsuit for discrimination, even if EEOC or the Court later determined no discrimination occurred. This protects employees who file claims of discrimination in good fait. Also, anyone who is a witness in a discrimination case or investigation may have the same protection from being retaliated against by an employer.
Signs of Retaliation at Work
Although employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against their employees, it still occurs. Here are some signs you’re being retaliated against at work:
Your Hours Are Cut: One of the most common ways employers retaliate against their workers is to drastically reduce their hours. If you used to work 40 hours a week, and your employer has reduced your hours to 20 a week after filing a complaint, you may be getting retaliated against.
You’re Getting Left Out: Getting excluded at work can be very upsetting. If your coworkers are always leaving you out of conversations and meetings, it’s a sign you’re being retaliated against.
You’re Passed Over for a Promotion: If you’ve recently applied for a promotion and your supervisor gave you a good recommendation, you might think that you have a good chance getting promoted. However, you filed a complaint shortly after regarding a sexual comment a coworker said to you, and got passed up for the promotion. While this could be a coincidence, it could also indicate retaliation.
You’re Facing Harassment: If you’ve filed a complaint against someone who is well-liked at your company, you may experience harassment from other coworkers. They may start rumors about you, call you hurtful names or even make verbal threats.
You’re Terminated from Your Job: If you file a complaint at your job because you’re facing sexual harassment or getting paid less than someone else while performing the same tasks, your employer could become angry and terminate you. This is the most severe way to retaliate against an employee and is completely illegal.
What to Do If You’re Being Retaliated Against
If you believe that your employer is retaliating against you, the first thing you should do is talk to your supervisor about your concerns. Inform him or her why you think you’re being retaliated against and ask for an explanation. There may be a reasonable explanation. For instance, if your hours were cut, business at your company may be slower than usual.
If your employer can’t provide you with a reasonable explanation, you should consult an employment lawyer as soon as possible. He or she can investigate your case and help you file a formal complaint against your employer. If you have any evidence pertaining to your case, make sure to bring it to your meeting with your lawyer. For instance, if you were denied a promotion after making a complaint, show documents displaying that your boss was pleased with your performance.
If you’re the victim of retaliation at work, schedule a consultation with a lawyer today.