Retaliation in the Workplace

Retaliation in the workplace by your employer for something you have done which is perfectly legal is prohibited. Your employer may face penalties, such as fines, if it is proven that it has retaliated against you.

Typical retaliation includes firing you, harassing you, not paying you wages or not offering overtime because you have done something such as:

  • alerting authorities to the existence of illegal activity at your workplace;
  • refusing to carry out an illegal task in your workplace;
  • applying for workers’ compensation after a workplace injury or illness;
  • applying for family or medical leave as you are entitled to under the Family and Medical Leave Act;
  • filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment against you with the appropriate state or federal agency.

Your employer cannot retaliate against you if you have filed a complaint of discrimination or acted as a whistleblower. Retaliation against an employee for the reasons given in the examples above is prohibited by the federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964. Each state will also have its own employment legislation that prohibits retaliation against an employee.

You have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), or the equivalent state body, if you believe that you have suffered from a retaliatory action at work. You must be able to show why you believe it was retaliation and that it was not due to your performance at work or willingness to do a job. You may be given permission to sue your employer in a civil court if the government agencies cannot resolve your complaint.

Below are more retaliation resources: