MarketWatch reports that workers filed over 39,000 retaliation charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2019. These claims represent roughly 54% of all charges submitted to the EEOC that year.
Retaliation often occurs when an employee becomes a whistleblower and alleges inappropriate conduct by his or her employer.
Employee must establish retaliation by employer
Retaliation may take place when an employer pursues a materially adverse job action against an employee. However, you may not assert a claim for retaliation merely because you feel bullied or mismanaged by your supervisor.
To claim retaliation, you must be engaging in an activity protected under equal employment opportunity laws. For example, employment laws safeguard you from workplace discrimination. As a result, you have protection when you report discriminatory employment practices. You may also enjoy protection if you report evidence of inappropriate conduct such as fraudulent accounting practices.
You must also establish a timeline that connects the protected activity to the adverse workplace consequences you suffered.
Employers may try to deter complaints
Companies may use varied retaliatory tactics:
- Terminate your employment
- Reduce your pay
- Demote you or reassign your responsibilities
- Give you a poor job review
- Remove you from decision-making opportunities
Employers may take these actions to discourage you from asserting your protected rights.
You should gather proof of retaliation
Good recordkeeping can help build your case. Take notes describing any retaliatory actions and when they occurred. Keep copies of complaints you filed with management about company practices. Maintaining a journal or sending emails to yourself can help establish a timeline. Be sure to document good reviews or evaluations you received before you filed the complaint.
Be careful if you retain company documents to support your case. Your employer may allege you violated company policies and stole documents.