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Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

How to Recognize Common Workplace Retaliation Tactics

By Dan Atkerson on December 16, 2015

Hard business decisionNot only are there laws to protect employees from workplace discrimination and sexual harassment, but employees are also protected from punishments for making discrimination or harassment complaints. Employers that take retaliatory action against employees for engaging in legally protected activity may be subject to lawsuits for workplace retaliation.

Common Examples of Workplace Retaliation

Here are a few examples of workplace retaliation tactics used by employers to punish workers for filing complaints for harassment or discrimination.
  • Being left out or not allowed to attend staff meetings or group events
  • Getting the cold shoulder from coworkers
  • Verbal abuse from other coworkers or a manager/supervisor
  • Wrongful termination or threats of firing
  • Being overlooked for a deserved raises or promotions
  • Demotion or relocation
  • Cutting work hours or pay rate
  • Harassment outside of work, either online or in person
  • Physical harm or property damage
Sometimes, it can be difficult to know for sure whether or not actions being taken against you are actually retaliation. For example, if your supervisor changes his behavior and becomes more professional and less friendly after you make a complaint, then it is not retaliation. Being less friendly is not retaliation, but being fired or demoted or any of the other actions listed above might be.

What to Do about Retaliation

First, ask your supervisor or someone in HR why certain actions have been taken against you. There may be a legitimate reason for their decisions, but if they cannot give you a satisfactory answer, then you may have a case for retaliation.

If you suspect retaliation, begin taking notes and keeping emails that document any suspected retaliatory actions. Talk to an employment lawyer about taking further steps to stop negative actions being taken against you and to prevent any more problems in the future.

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