Retaliation cases are often complex because of the inherent contradiction of the situation, where an employee is punished ostensibly for some legitimate disciplinary reason, but in fact, is being punished because a supervisor or manager, in essence, decides to "get even" with the employee, often for entirely personal reasons.
For employees, the experience can become a horrific hall-of-mirrors, where they are subjected to adverse job actions or disciplinary proceedings at virtually every turn. In a recent case, an investigator from NOAA was instructed investigate a fellow employee of NOAA. This was request was outside the job description of the position. The investigator was later denied a promotion, purportedly due to his conferring during the investigation with the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office.