What Is Workplace Retaliation?

In the bustling, fast-paced world of employment, conflicts can arise that put workers in challenging situations. One such conflict is workplace retaliation, a term you might have heard but may not fully understand. Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an employee for engaging in legally protected activity. This punishment can manifest in various forms, including termination, demotion, salary reduction, or any other adverse employment action. The “legally protected activity” can range from filing a complaint about discrimination or harassment to participating in an investigation within the company.

Instances of Workplace Retaliation

To better grasp the concept, here are three detailed examples:

  • Example 1: An employee reports sexual harassment to their HR department. Soon after, they receive negative performance reviews and are excluded from essential team meetings. This could be considered retaliation.
  • Example 2: A worker files a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about unsafe practices at their workplace. In response, their employer reduces their hours or demotes them.
  • Example 3: An employee testifies as a witness in a colleague’s racial discrimination lawsuit. Later, they are suddenly reassigned to a less desirable position or location.

These examples display various forms of workplace retaliation, a grave issue that affects individuals across diverse sectors. Each instance showcases the consequences employees face after engaging in activities protected by law. These instances underline that workplace retaliation can occur in many forms, often as an adverse reaction to an employee standing up for their rights or the rights of their colleagues.

Signs of Workplace Retaliation

  • Sudden negative evaluations: If you suddenly receive negative feedback on your performance despite previous positive reviews, it could be an act of retaliation.
  • Exclusion: It may be a retaliatory measure if you are excluded from essential team meetings or professional development opportunities.
  • Demotion: Being demoted without a legitimate reason can indicate retaliation.
  • Salary reduction: An unexplained decrease in your salary or wage might indicate retaliation.
  • Increased scrutiny: Retaliation could be the reason if your work is being scrutinized suddenly.
  • Change in job duties: If your duties change drastically overnight, especially to less desirable ones, it could be retaliation.
  • Hostile work environment: If the work environment becomes hostile or uncomfortable for you, it could result in retaliation.
  • Unexplained reassignments: Being reassigned to a new location or a less desirable position without rationale can signify retaliation.
  • Threats or intimidation: It could be a retaliatory action if you face threats or intimidation from superiors or colleagues.
  • Refusal of promotion: If you are denied a promotion for which you are highly qualified, it might be retaliation.
  • Increased workload: If your workload suddenly increases without a logical explanation, it could be a sign of retaliation.
  • Unjustified disciplinary action: Retaliation might be the reason if you are facing disciplinary action for minor or non-existent issues.

Each of these signs is considered retaliation because they represent an adverse change in an employee’s work conditions, executed in response to the employee’s engagement in a legally protected activity.

Legal Options for Workplace Retaliation

If you believe you have been subjected to workplace retaliation, legal remedies are available. You can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If these efforts do not resolve the issue, you may consider filing a lawsuit against your employer. However, consulting with an experienced employment attorney before taking any legal action is crucial. They can help you understand your rights, evaluate your case, and guide you through the complex legal process.

A South Jersey Employment Lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Can Help if You Are Encountering Workplace Retaliation

Workplace retaliation is a serious concern that can significantly impact your life. Speak with a South Jersey employment lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC today. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.