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What are different examples of retaliation by an employer?

We have discussed a variety of issues related to employees filing complaints against employers. In almost every case, we have mentioned that employers can't retaliate against employees who file valid complaints against them. Retaliation is any adverse action by employers because of complaints about protected activities.

What are adverse actions?

Adverse actions are actions that an employer or employer's representatives take that have a negative effect on the employee. This can include firing the employee, demoting the employee, refusing to promote a qualified employee, reducing the pay of the employee, changing the schedule of the employee or making the workplace hostile for the employee. Even actions like negative reviews can be classified as adverse actions.

What are protected activities?

A protected activity is an activity that alerts an employer or others about illegal, unethical or discriminatory occurrences in a workplace. An employee who files a complaint about sexual harassment, one who complains about discrimination and an employee who is considered a whistleblower are all considered protected employees since they engaged in protected activities.

Are all adverse actions retaliation?

In order to make a claim of retaliation, the employee has to show that the adverse action is directly related to the protected activity. That means that an employee who is shirking job duties can't claim retaliation for a negative performance review as long as the performance review was accurate.

If you think that you have been the victim of retaliation, you should work to understand if your case meets the criteria set for retaliation. Once you know that your case qualifies, you can learn about the ways you can seek compensation for the retaliation.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Facts About Retaliation," accessed Sep. 16, 2015

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