When you witness or learn of misconduct or illegal behavior, you may feel compelled to report it to proper authorities. In your daily life, this might include reporting something to law enforcement.
However, concern for your job may cause you to be hesitant to report the wrongdoing when your employer is at fault. You may fear that reporting an employer will inspire payback that puts your job in jeopardy.
What is workplace retaliation?
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes negative action against an employee as punishment for reporting employer misconduct. Examples of retaliation may include a demotion or change in responsibilities or status, a pay cut, exclusion from meetings or projects you should be part of, reassignment to a different position or termination.
What could cause retaliation?
Reporting your employer for intentional misconduct or illegal activities may spark resentment and anger. Misconduct could include sexual harassment, discrimination related to gender, age, or race, or harassment or discrimination regarding disabilities. Improper activities may also include pregnancy discrimination or violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
An employer may also retaliate against employees who participate in investigations into discrimination or harassment claims. Even if you are not the person who initially reported the misconduct, you may face retaliation for helping to prove it.
Whether you report the behavior to the human resources department at your company human or to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission depends on what you witnessed. Regardless of how or where you report such behavior, laws exist to protect those who report improper activity from retaliation.