Most employees know that their employers may not discriminate against or harass them based on their race, color, national origin, sex, or religion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. However, some employees may not realize that the law further prohibits employers from punishing them if they report or file complaints regarding discriminatory or harassing behavior. Such punishment is referred to as unlawful retaliation, and may include various actions such as demotion, pay decreases, termination, or any other type of disciplinary actions.
However, workplace retaliation is not always as readily identifiable or obvious to other employees as an outright demotion or termination. Sometimes, it can be as subtle as a change in attitude toward you by your supervisor, reassignment to a less important project, or not receiving the same training or career building opportunities as other employees. Such actions can work to create a tense and even hostile work environment for employees, and also constitute unlawful termination.
Forbes.com reported that the 12 most common forms of retaliation suffered by employees are as follows:
Being ignored, given the silent treatment or cold shoulder by supervisors or coworkers.
Being left out of certain projects, activities, or decisions.
Not being considered for a promotion or raise they deserved.
Being demoted to a position with less power or responsibility.
Having their pay or hours cut.
Having their job security threatened.
Being reassigned to another department, office building, or even relocated to another city.
Suffering verbal abuse by management or supervisors.
Suffering verbal abuse or harassment by coworkers.
Experiencing harassment online via social media sites, email, or instant messaging programs.
Having another employee destroy their property or physically harm their person.
Experiencing harassment and threats outside the workplace, including at their home or in public.
Employees have the right to speak out regarding unlawful discrimination or harassment in the workplace without additionally suffering retaliation from a supervisor, management, or co-workers. If you believe you have been the victim of unlawful workplace retaliation, you should first document every adverse action taken against you. The more specific evidence you have of possible retaliation, the greater the chances you will have to win a later claim. You should also collect any information that shows your supervisor had no problems with your performance prior to your report or complaint.
You should report your concerns to your supervisor or human resources and ask if there is another reasonable explanation for the negative treatment aside from your prior complaints. If your employer does not provide another reasonable explanation, you should contact an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to discuss a possible claim against your employer for unlawful workplace retaliation. You may be awarded job reinstatement, back pay, and other damages to compensate you for the violation of your rights.
No one should have to deal with unlawful workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. If you believe your employer has violated your rights under federal and state employment laws, do not hesitate to contact the Pershing Square Law Firm as soon as possible. A dedicated employment lawyer is waiting to help you.