Employees have the right to a workplace that complies with applicable laws regarding employment and safety. If the employer is violating any laws, codes or restrictions employees should feel comfortable filing complaints about the violation without having to worry about facing negative employment actions.
Employers simply can’t retaliate against an employee because the employee exercises their legal right to file complaints about illegal activities or because they cooperate with an investigation into the company’s actions that was prompted by someone else’s complaint.
What types of actions are considered retaliation?
Any negative employment action is considered retaliation if it is a consequence of the employee’s protected actions. That means that an employee still can be fired for other problems, like their failure to comply with company policies or a legitimately poor job performance — but they can’t be disciplined just because their employer is angry about their complaint or cooperation with an investigation.
Some examples of negative employment actions include:
- Pay reductions
- Moving to a less desirable position, location or shift
- Hour or shift reduction
- Giving a negative performance review
- Failing to promote
- Denying benefits available to comparable employees
Retaliation doesn’t always have to be blatant. It’s possible that it can be very subtle. Employers that create a hostile work environment for the employee by isolation, false accusations, and similar actions would also be guilty of retaliation. It’s also illegal for a company to “blacklist” an employee. This means that they take steps to interfere with the person’s ability to find another job in the industry by spreading negative information to other employers.
Any employee who has been retaliated against should take action. Speaking to an attorney who’s familiar with these situations is beneficial so you know exactly what options you have. This can help you make informed decisions about your situation as you move forward.