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Workplace retaliation: Things you need to know

It doesn't matter if you enjoy the people you work with or don't exactly get along, it's important to understand that you have legal rights at your place of employment.

For example, EEO laws are in place to help protect job applicants and employees against retaliation for the following:

  • Filing an EEO charge or complaint
  • Being part of an EEO lawsuit or investigation
  • Communicating with a manager, supervisor or HR professional about matters of discrimination and harassment
  • Refusing sexual advances
  • Requesting accommodation for a religious practice or disability

While this is not a comprehensive list, it provides a solid overview of the types of protection afforded to both applicants and employees.

Unfortunately, even with federal and state laws in place, many people are victims of workplace retaliation every year. This can take on many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Demotion to a position with less responsibility
  • Termination
  • Pay cut
  • Verbal or physical abuse
  • Increased scrutiny
  • Spreading false rumors
  • Threatening to make false reports (or actually making false reports)

Now that you understand the severity of workplace retaliation, it's important that you know which steps to take should you find yourself in this position. While no two people are facing the exact same circumstances, there are some basic steps to take:

  • Collect as much information as possible as it pertains to your claim of retaliation
  • Report the behavior to the appropriate person, even if it means going to the company owner or HR department
  • Read through your employee handbook to get a better idea of how to deal with retaliation
  • Continue to collect evidence as the days go by, such as emails that provide proof of retaliation
  • Learn more about your legal rights as an employee

It's your hope that reporting the retaliation to your supervisor and/or HR department will be enough to put an end to it. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. It's possible that the behavior could continue, thus forcing you to consider other actions.

Depending on the end result, such as if you lose your job, you may find that you have no choice but to focus on your legal rights to take action against your employer.

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