Employees should feel free to report adverse working conditions and other workplace problems that violate company policy or the law without worry that they’ll be treated like a “problem employee.” Employers can’t retaliate against an employee just because that employee cooperated with an investigation or filed a report that may reflect negatively on the company.
Retaliation in the workplace encompasses a vast array of actions — some more obvious than others.
What actions can be considered workplace retaliation?
The easiest answer to this is that any action tied to an employee’s protected activities (like filing a complaint with human resources) that negatively impacts a person’s employment is retaliation. This includes things like:
- Termination without good cause (anything unrelated to work performance or business necessity)
- Cutting someone’s pay or giving them less desirable work assignments
- Moving the complaining employee to a new shift or location against their will
- Giving the employee purposefully (and unfair) unfavorable work performance reviews
- Making impossible demands on the employee’s work performance
- Any action that generally makes the employee’s work unnecessarily difficult
While employers can still take adverse action against an employee for legitimate reasons, any sudden negative action that occurs shortly after an employee makes a complaint or otherwise displeases their employer may be suspect — particularly if the employee in question has always had favorable work reviews in the past.
If you believe that your employer engaged in workplace retaliation against you because of a legally protected action you took, you can fight back. It’s wisest to take your situation to an experienced attorney and discuss your options.