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What is workplace retaliation?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2022 | Employment Law

Many laws protect employees from discrimination and harassment in their workplace. When these laws are broken, typically, the offenders face some kind of repercussion, such as termination or legal fines. As a result of a discrimination or harassment claim, employers may fear a claim will tarnish their business’s reputation, causing customers to leave and a lower employment rate.

Employers may try to take advantage of their position, following a discrimination and harassment claim, and retaliate against an employee. However, employees have protection from workplace retaliation, but this doesn’t stop employers who believe they’re above the law. Here’s what you should know:

Know your employee rights about retaliation

Retaliation occurs when employers punish employees for exercising their rights. Common actions that incite workplace retaliation may include the following:

  • Filing a discrimination or harassment claim
  • Refusing, against an employer’s wishes, to commit illegal actions
  • Requesting a leave of absence
  • Filing a claim against an employer
  • Filing for workers’ compensation
  • Whistleblowing on illegal work activities

Typically, retaliation occurs shortly after an employee exercised their rights. Retaliation, much like discrimination and harassment, can take on many faces. An employee may be a victim of retaliation if they’re experiencing one of the following:

  • They were demoted from a higher-paying position
  • They were passed up on a promotion they were guaranteed for
  • Their salary or hours were reduced without reason
  • They’re excluded from team meetings training or other activities
  • They received several poor performance reviews
  • They were resigned less work to the point they aren’t working at all
  • They were assigned so much work that it becomes too much, causing burnout


In general, retaliation is meant to harm an employee’s living conditions and slowly push them out of the workplace as a punishment for acting on their legal rights.

Proving you’re a victim of retaliation

An employee likely won’t be able to outright say their employer is retaliating against them without evidence. When looking to pursue damages, an employee may need to compile everything that took place before and after they started experiencing retaliation – the more evidence the better when creating a retaliation claim.

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