In certain situations, it is illegal for employers to take certain actions against employees or job applicants which may be considered unlawful retaliation. It is helpful for both employers and employees to be familiar with what is considered workplace retaliation and how it can be prevented.
Examples of when retaliation may occur
Retaliation can include any adverse action taken against and employee or job applicant because the employee or job applicant took part in certain protected activities. Protected activities can include reporting the employer for illegal activities or for making a complaint about harassment or discrimination. Examples of adverse actions that are prohibited include firing the employee, extending a negative evaluation to the employee, disciplining or demoting the employee in response to the report or complaint or reducing the employee’s wages or reassigning them.
Ways to help prevent retaliation
There are several steps that employers can take to help ensure employer retaliation does not take place including:
- Create a policy – employers should ensure they have a policy against retaliation in place. The policy should also include a process for reporting and investigating retaliation complaints.
- Take complaints seriously – employers should take all complaints of workplace retaliation seriously and should immediately take steps to remedy the situation.
- Maintain confidentiality of complaints – make it clear to employees that any reports or complaints will be kept confidential and will only be shared with those investigating the complaint.
- Maintain records – as part of their process, employers should also have a process for keeping records and retaining documents related to any complaint and investigation of a complaint. The process needs to be documented from complaint to conclusion and from beginning to end.
What employers can tell employees
Employers should advise employees that making a complaint will not limit their future career prospects. Employment law can protect employees, job applicants and employers who have policies in place to prevent workplace retaliation. These are important resources employees and employers should be familiar with.