Employer retaliation in the workplace

Retaliation is a common complaint reported to the EEOC. This federal agency provides protections from this type of discriminatory action.

Employees in Texas should be able to count on their employers to be fair in hiring, promotion and other employment practices, and make decisions free of bias. To make this more likely, federal laws define these, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains that it is the federal agency that provides oversight to prevent discrimination in the workplace. While biases based on religion, race and gender are common, more employees file complaints about discrimination based on retaliation than any other.

What is retaliation?

Essentially, retaliation is the attempt to punish an employee for reporting discriminatory practices, participating in a discrimination investigation by the EEOC or a similar protected activity related to unfair employment practices based on protected classes such as age, disability and national origin. When attempting to prove retaliation, an employee needs to be able to provide evidence of the manager's motive or intent in the perceived punitive behavior.

The EEOC points out that the retaliatory action may be the decision to terminate or demote an employee or pass him or her over for a promotion, or it could be harassment that creates a hostile work environment. Low scores on performance reviews, poor references that are not warranted and unnecessary scrutiny of the employee are three more adverse actions that are examples of retaliation.

What are the employee's rights and responsibilities?

Employees do not have to follow instructions that they believe are discriminatory. They also have the right to tell managers or supervisors that they will file a discrimination charge if the illegal activity is not corrected. However, they may not threaten violence. Other actions that are protected from retaliation include picketing and filing complaints to oppose discrimination. An employee who is opposing discrimination still has the responsibility to perform regular job duties, though.

Who is protected?

Even if the discrimination charges are found to be invalid, as long as the employee has acted in good faith, he or she is protected from retaliation. The same is true for an employee who participates in litigation filed by the EEOC that results in a decision in favor of the employer. A person who encourages another employee to engage in a protected activity is also protected from retaliation.

Anyone who feels they may have been the subject of retaliation from an employer may be able to regain the position, advancement or lost benefit that was taken from them. Lost wages may also be recovered, if applicable. A Texas employment law attorney may be able to provide legal representation to ensure that a person receives the full compensation to which they are entitled by law.