When an employer acts against an employee for filing a complaint about workplace discrimination, harassment or unsafe conditions, this is employer retaliation. Workers may also experience retaliation after participating in a workplace investigation or asserting their rights under employment laws.
If you are experiencing retaliation in the workplace, it is important to know how to respond. Employees have certain protections against retaliation under both federal and Texas state laws.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. If you assert your Title VII rights and your employer retaliates, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Nearly 56% of all charges filed with the EEOC are for retaliation.
Texas Labor Code Chapter 451
This state law protects employees from retaliation for reporting violations of state law or taking part in protected activities. This includes reporting unsafe working conditions, filing a wage claim or participating in a workers’ compensation claim.
The Texas Whistleblower Act
This act protects public employees who report illegal activities or violations of law by their employers. Retaliation against whistleblowers is prohibited.
5 action steps
Employer retaliation claims are complex and challenging. The following steps may increase your chances of a successful claim:
- Document everything: Keep detailed records of the retaliatory actions and any evidence like emails or texts.
- Review company policies: Understand your company’s policies related to retaliation. This information will help you understand your rights and how to proceed.
- File an internal complaint: If your company has a procedure for reporting workplace issues, follow it. Keep a copy of your complaint for your records.
- File a complaint with a government agency: You may need to file a complaint with the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commission. Be aware of any filing deadlines to preserve your rights.
- Maintain professionalism: Continue to do your job well and behave professionally. Any acts of insubordination or misconduct could weaken your position.
Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and equitable workplace. Employees have legally protected rights to speak out when they experience unfair treatment.