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Can you be fired for making a complaint in the workplace?

It’s very difficult to be in a situation where you witness something at work that you believe to be discrimination. Even though you know you should file a complaint because you don’t want the behavior to continue, you hesitate because you’re worried about what might happen to you.

Many people find themselves questioning if their employer can retaliate against them because they made a complaint. Is there a chance you could lose your job? Fortunately, there are stringent employment regulations in place to avoid this.

Workplace retaliation is an offense

Retaliation at work happens when a worker is penalized for reporting discrimination and harassment or for making a whistleblower complaint. Demotions, wage reductions, or work-hour reductions are some of the types of sanctions that employees may encounter as a result of filing a complaint. A complaint of this kind is referred to as a protected activity.

What is a protected action?

An employee is provided with legal protection from retaliation by an employer when they engage in a protected activity.

Simply put, it is illegal for your employer to discipline you for filing a complaint about illegal or discriminatory behavior you encounter at work.

Below are some examples of what might be considered a protected action in the workplace:

  • Raising a complaint that you have either been the victim of discrimination yourself or you have witnessed it happening to someone else
  • Whistleblowing or taking part in an investigation into your employer
  • Making a report that you have witnessed wage theft or have identified a breach of minimum wage laws
  • Refusing to obey an order that you truly believe to be discriminatory in nature

When you report wrongdoing and discrimination in the workplace, you should not need to be scared of reprisal. If this happens to you, you can look to the employment laws that offer protection against retaliation.

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