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Does retaliation have to be done on purpose?

We have discussed retaliation and how it affects employees in the United States. Those posts might have some of our California readers with some questions about retaliation. In a nutshell, retaliation means trying to get back at a worker for making a complaint about something, such as sexual harassment.

Does an action have to be done on purpose to qualify as retaliation?

Action taken a person who has filed a complaint doesn't have to be taken with the purpose of retaliating against that person in order to be classified as retaliation. If an action is construed as retaliation, it might qualify as retaliation. An example would be moving a worker to another shift to get the worker away from the person who allegedly harassed the worker. The move had good intentions, but might still be considered retaliation.

Can employees who complain be disciplined?

Employers are allowed to discipline employees who file complaints if they are disciplining the employee for a valid reason. That means that an employer can't discipline the employee because of filing the complaint. However, if the employee misses a shift, for example, the employer can discipline the employee.

Can employees be disciplined for filing false complaints?

Just because a complaint wasn't truthful doesn't mean the employer should retaliate against the employee. The truth of the complaint isn't a factor when it comes to retaliation. That doesn't give employees the right to lie to an employer, but it does protect employees who file a claim they feel is justified but is later determined not to be justified.

Those who feel they have been retaliated against at work after filing a complaint should learn about their options for dealing with the retaliation. Employers shouldn't be allowed to get away with retaliation under any circumstances.

Source: FindLaw, "Workplace Retaliation" Jan. 07, 2015

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