Retaliation is often related to discrimination in the workplace. It is illegal to retaliate against an employee, who filed a discrimination complaint about unfair and unjust treatment at work. Such an employee often becomes an object of workplace harassment, wrongful termination, or other form of retaliation in the workplace. The employee can be fired, demoted, underpaid or harassed in retaliation for complaining about hostile workplace environment, discrimination at work, or for taking part in a discrimination investigation or discrimination lawsuit.
It can also happen that even though an original employee’s claim of discrimination is not found to be a violation of law, the retaliation that follows as the employer’s reaction is established to be an act of unlawful discrimination.
What is Retaliation and Why It Happens So Often?
Retaliation includes different adverse actions against employees for filing a charge of discrimination or any other violation of law by their employer, its manager or supervisor. The retaliatory actions may include refusal to hire those who took part in an investigation of discrimination claim or lawsuit, denial of promotion, unjustified negative evaluations or references, harassment in the workplace, increased surveillance, dismissal, intimidation or threat, as well as other retaliation practices.
In order to prove retaliation in the workplace it is usually enough to demonstrate that your manager or supervisor creates a hostile workplace environment or takes adverse actions in response to your complaint about discrimination or any other unlawful practice or your participation in investigation or lawsuit. For instance, you filed a discrimination complaint with US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You did not succeed in proving your case. However, supervisor made a notice about your complaint and put it in your personal file. Later this information was used to deny you a promotion or wage increase. This practice will be considered retaliatory. In this case you can claim your unlawfully withheld promotion or wage increase, and removal of this information from your personal file in order to avoid negative references or evaluations in future.
According to EEOC, retaliation is “the most common issue” found in “federal sector cases.” About half of all complaints filed with EEOC in 2013 were retaliation complaints (http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/retaliation_considerations.cfm). Retaliating against federal employees quite often relates to the whistleblowing activities.
Who is a whistleblower? – Whistleblower is an employee who reveals unlawful activities of his or her employer. Whistleblowers can be government employees, employees working for a private company which is a government contractor, or any other employees who noticed violations of safety rules, fraud, corruption, or other violation of law and report about those illegal activities. The most common types of whistleblower reports relate to government contractor fraud, defense contractor fraud, violation of GSA contracts, and healthcare fraud.
You should know that whistleblowers are under protection of federal and state laws. If after reporting your employer illegal activities you become a victim of unlawful retaliation, you should immediately contact your employment attorney to protect your rights.