Under labor laws, employees can file a complaint against their employers for workplace issues, such as discrimination and harassment, while employers can reprimand or terminate an employee on legal grounds.
But while it is the employer’s right to act against an employee for lawful reasons, the timing of the action and the adverse changes in the employee’s work schedule and environment can lead one to suspect retaliation.
How do I know if it is retaliation?
The law prohibits an employer from punishing an employee for filing a complaint against them, participating in a workplace investigation or taking part in any protected activity. This is retaliation and could be in the form of any of the following actions:
- Termination without lawful cause
- Denial of promotion or raise
- Payment or benefit cuts
- Unfavorable changes in work schedule and assignments
- Unfair work performance reviews
Any action that creates an unsafe working environment and makes work unnecessarily hard for an employee, after a complaint or investigation, can be a sign of workplace retaliation.
What should I do?
If you still have doubts about whether your employer’s actions are a form of retaliation, you can communicate with your human resources officer or manager about the changes in your work shift or the result of your performance review. If they cannot give a valid explanation and refuse to step up to fix the issue, you can bring the concern to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or your state labor agency.
Understanding employee rights and protection under the law can help employees determine their internal and legal options. Moreover, consulting with a legal professional can help an employee gauge where their case stands so they can build a strong retaliation complaint.