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What is employer retaliation?

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Equal Employment Opportunity laws or EEO laws prohibit job discrimination. One of the most common forms of discrimination includes retaliation. If you perform an action that protects your rights to avoid discrimination and your employer tries to reprimand you for it, this is retaliation.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains how to identify discrimination by retaliation.

What actions have protection?

To assert your rights as an employer is a protected activity. If you spoke out against your employer, colleagues or workplace in any way, you cannot suffer consequences for it.

The actions that you can take part in include:

  • Answering questions during an employer investigation
  • Filing a complaint or witnessing a complaint
  • Ask coworkers salary information to uncover discrimination

You have every right to ignore orders that would result in discrimination, to resist inappropriate advances and to tell a supervisor when discrimination occurs. To oppose discrimination is legal. As long as you can reasonably believe that something in the workplace violated discrimination laws, you can file a complaint.

What can employers not do?

While an employer can still discipline or terminate you for reasons other than retaliatory, he or she cannot discipline you in a way that would discourage someone else from complaining about discrimination.

For example, an employer cannot transfer you to a lesser position, give you a low-performance evaluation or increase scrutiny because of your complaints. If an employer engages in abusive behavior, whether it is physical or verbal out of retaliation, this is discrimination. If an employer threatens to make reports to authorities, such as immigration, this violates the EEO laws.