Retaliation can take many forms. In some organizations, the employer or colleagues may blatantly say things or take actions to create a hostile environment after someone exercises their employment rights or files a claim.
In some instances, employers resort to other actions that are more difficult to prove. While it is natural that they should feel upset that an employee filed charges, employers also need to respect employee rights and their potential role in failing to resolve the issue internally.
Most EEOC filings are for retaliation
MarketWatch estimates that in 2019, 53.8% of all Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges filed were for retaliation. Back in 2009, these filings made up just 36%. The #MeToo movement has played a big role in employees fighting back against unfair practices in the workplace, but many employers are not backing down, even when it means violating people’s rights.
Protections provided by the EEOC
EEOC highlights a few specific examples where it becomes unlawful for employers to retaliate against not just employees but applicants for vacancies:
- Asking colleagues or superiors for compensation information to determine if there are discriminatory wages
- Refusing to comply with orders given by superiors that would result in discrimination
- Requesting reasonable accommodation for religious reasons or due to disabilities
- Resisting romantic or sexual advances from colleagues or the boss
- Participating in an ongoing investigation as a witness
When faced with these difficult situations, people should attempt to document everything as much as possible, even if it just a personal log of what happened, who was involved and when. Sometimes an impeccably accurate story offers the best evidence while the other parties scramble to remember who said what, did what and when.