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Why some business leaders use retaliation

One of the main reasons California employees do not speak up about harassment, discrimination or other misconduct in the workplace is fear of retaliatory actions. This is where an employee is reprimanded or punished for simply calling attention to an injustice in the workplace. When this fear becomes so engrained in an employee's mind, they will overlook serious and illegal activity just to retain their job.

While an employee's side of retaliation has been well documented through the countless lawsuits filed throughout the nation, some wonder what actually drives a manager, CEO or business owner to utilize these tactics. According to a news story, managers do not necessarily always institute retaliatory actions to cover up the misconduct. Many are so pre-occupied with the demands of the modern office that they overlook the complaint or become defensive and therefore punish the person who lodged the complaint.

The article writer explored the mindset of a boss or manager when a complaint has been filed. Many managers have little support staff, which leaves their schedules very busy. They do not necessarily have time to address a complaint, even though they need to. Often, they react with a fight or flight response and lash out at the party who filed the complaint.

Some managers might perceive the person that filed the complaint as a troublemaker and by giving credibility to his or her claims, it would only encourage other troublemakers to do the same. Other managers might simply fear for their own jobs if illegal or unethical behavior took place on their watch. The writer also stated that some managers might fear that they will come off as a poor leader if misconduct took place on their watch.

Regardless of why business leaders use retaliation, it is still completely illegal. Business leaders must work to understand that when it comes to complaints of harassment or other misconduct, they must think of the safety and work conditions of everyone involved rather than themselves.

Source: Workforce.com, "Conquering fear and workplace retaliation," Stephen Paskoff, April 2, 2012

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