Workplace retaliation takes many forms, and knowing what examples of retaliation at work looks like can help you identify these types of scenarios, report suspicious behaviors, and protect yourself legally.
The law, both state and federal, protects employees against harassment, sexism, racism, and discrimination. The law goes further, however, and also protects employees against punishment for complaining and reporting on these unlawful activities. Employers do NOT have the right to punish employees for exercising their rights in reporting unlawful behaviors and activities, known as “retaliation.” If you’ve faced retaliation at work, then you may have a right to sue your employer for damages.
Common Types of Retaliation at Work
Workplace retaliation covers a very wide range of conduct between employers and employees and takes on many different forms. Some types of retaliation occur more often and more frequently than others.
Below are some common forms of retaliation at work that impact office and other professional environments:
- Termination or demotion
- Low or negative performance evaluations
- Changing or adverse work hours, schedules, or locations
- Reduction in wages or benefits
- Transition to a less favorable position
Termination or Demotion
Termination or demotion. This is when an employee feels as if their job has been taken away from them or they have been moved to a lesser role or position because they spoke out or reported a concern.
Low or Negative Performance Evaluations
Low or negative performance evaluations. Sometimes, an employer will target an employee with a performance evaluation that is very low or negative, preventing them from being chosen for a promotion or a pay raise.
Changing or Adverse Work Hours, Schedules, or Locations
Changing or adverse work hours, schedules, or locations. When an employee has reported an issue or concern, the employer may try to retaliate by changing the employee’s work location, giving more or less hours, or disrupting the schedule so the employee cannot perform.
Reduction in Wages or Benefits
Reduction in wages or benefits. Sometimes, employers choose to play with an employee’s salary, paycheck frequency, or benefits. Employees might see a reduction in wages, lack of reimbursement, or holiday hours not being covered. Removal or reduction in benefits such as health coverage is also a form of retaliation at work.
Transition to a Less Favorable Position
Transition to a less favorable position. Let’s say that you wear a hijab to work but your manager tells you that it makes customers or other employees in the office feel uncomfortable. It is part of your religious beliefs and so you file a claim. Later, you find yourself being pushed into a less favorable position.
Harassment, Abuse, or Bullying
Harassment. Perhaps, a manager, supervisor, or coworker continuously makes sexual innuendoes or advancements to you. After you tell them to stop and report it to your HR department, you find a notice of termination on your desk when you arrive the next day and all of your office items already packed for you.
Verbal abuse, threats, harassment, and similar actions that are unpleasant or make for a toxic workplace environment may constitute retaliation as well. You can identify areas and examples of retaliation at work where there may be an issue with an already hostile environment by paying attention to conversations, reading agreements, and also reading the room to get a feel for what is going on. Ask questions of your coworkers to determine whether they are experiencing the same issues as you.
What Documentation Looks Like for a Retaliation Case
Retaliation claims can be complex, so it’s important to keep extensive records. After all, the success of your case will likely center around the evidence.
- Document what happened in the very first incident
- Note the actions that were taken as part of the retaliation
- Research any information from company employee handbooks
Document what happened in the very first incident. You can write it out in a report that you share with management and the HR department. Note the date, timeline, people involved, employer’s actions, employee’s actions, and anything else that may be useful in pursuing your case.
Note the actions that were taken as part of the retaliation for engaging in reporting activity or incident. Identifying what happened, who was involved or issued the retaliatory offense, and the timelines associated with it can be useful.
Research any information from company employee handbooks as well as procedures and processes for filing grievances that can be used to support the other evidence you are gathering. Using the company’s own words can help reduce the amount of time and resources expended on proving that the unlawful action happened.
Determining Retaliation at Work
Talking to an employment lawyer can clear up any confusion that you may have about your employer’s retaliatory actions. An experienced local attorney can not only help you to develop your case and file your claims, but also guide you through complex and ever-changing dynamics of litigation.
Depending on the form of retaliation, you may qualify for compensation related to income lost due to termination, role reduction, or hours and benefits losses. Damages calculations are fundamental to a lawyer’s services, so consult your attorney for an assessment. More accurate damages calculations take time (as significant evidence has to be procured, and the employer’s arguments have to be presented, too).
Find a Retaliation Lawyer with 1-800-THE-LAW2 to Help in a Retaliation or Employment Claim
If you believe that you are the victim of retaliation at work, it is important to contact an experienced employment or retaliation lawyer who can handle your case. Contact 1-800-THE-LAW2 today for a free and confidential consultation. We’ll get you connected to a qualified attorney in just 10 minutes or less.