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Workplace retaliation is about fear

Many people assume that workplace retaliation is about getting even or getting revenge. For example, your boss could make sexual advances on you, you could reject them and file a complaint, and then he could demote you or fire you. It seems like a clear-cut case of trying to make your life worse because you didn't give in.

However, some experts say that the goal isn't really getting even at all. It's more about fear.

They argue that people will retaliate when someone files a report or takes proper action because they want to send a message to all of the other workers in the office—and perhaps to you, as well. They want you and everyone else to be afraid because they have all of the power.

This way, if that person makes advances on another employee in the future, that employee will be more scared to do anything. After all, he or she saw what happened to you, and the new employee doesn't want the same outcome. That person may give in to advances that are not welcomed or at least refrain from filing reports in order to keep the job.

By doing this, the person who is in charge creates a culture of fear where people are willing to let their rights be violated because the alternative seems worse. This is how they try to skirt the laws and get away with doing things that break the rules.

It's important for workers not to give in to fear; if you've been threatened with retaliation, be sure you know all of your legal rights in California.

Source: Everyday Psychology, "What is workplace retaliation? It's about making people afraid.," Paul G. Mattiuzzi, accessed Nov. 06, 2015

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