How Do You Respond To Retaliation in the Workplace?

Both federal law and numerous state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who engage in various legal acts that may upset their employers. This doesn’t always stop employers from committing retaliation discrimination.

Do you believe you’ve been the victim of such mistreatment? If so, this overview explains the steps you can take to begin building a case against an employer.

How To Handle Retaliation Discrimination

Retaliation occurs when an employer takes some sort of adverse action against an employee because said worker filed a complaint, participated with investigators, drew attention to illegal business practices, or otherwise exercised their legal rights in a way that an employer found objectionable.

Examples of retaliation include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Termination
  • Denial of promotions/raises
  • Unfair disciplinary action

If you’ve been the target of retaliation in the workplace, you may have grounds to take legal action. Filing a claim could allow you to receive compensation or reinstatement to a job if you were fired.

Take the following steps to build a strong retaliation discrimination case:

  1. Maintain a log in which you list all instances of retaliation or discrimination. Thoroughly describe when and where they occurred, along with the nature of the retaliation. Additionally, keep a file in which you save copies of any useful evidence. This may include witness statements, your company’s retaliation policy, emails, voicemails, chat logs, memos, etc.
  2. Check your employee handbook to learn if it describes the process for filing an official retaliation complaint with HR. Follow the steps it lists. If there is no set process for filing a retaliation discrimination complaint, send a formal email to your supervisor and to HR explaining your concerns. In said email, ask that your employer and HR save and provide you with copies of all documentation regarding how they investigate and respond to your complaint.
  3. Because you can’t necessarily expect your employer to properly address retaliation in the workplace, it’s also wise to schedule a case evaluation with an attorney. Doing so involves no financial risk on your part. A lawyer likely won’t charge for a case review, ensuring you can discuss your concerns with an expert without any obligation.
  4. You may need to file your own lawsuit in response to workplace retaliation. Before doing so, file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or another relevant state agency. The agency may file a lawsuit on your behalf upon completing an investigation. If it doesn’t, the agency will likely provide you with a right-to-sue letter notifying you of your right to proceed with a lawsuit.

Get Help With Your Retaliation Claim

Workplace retaliation is still a common problem. Research indicates that approximately 75% of workers in the U.S. who speak up about mistreatment at their jobs will experience some form of retaliation.

If you’ve been the victim of retaliation discrimination at work, an attorney may be able to help you seek justice. To get started, complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page to get connected with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to the website.

Additional Resources