Retaliatory discrimination in the workplace is a challenging issue that many employees face. This occurs when an employer takes adverse actions against an employee in response to the employee engaging in legally protected activities.
While every workplace is unique, there are several common reasons why an employer might exhibit retaliatory discrimination. Understanding these causes, even if they do not justify your employer’s actions, can help you take the appropriate next steps.
Reporting unlawful conduct
One cause of retaliatory discrimination is when an employee reports unlawful conduct within the company. This might include harassment, discrimination or safety violations. Some employers may react negatively to employees who bring such issues to light.
Challenging unfair policies
Employees who speak out against unfair practices may find themselves facing retaliation. Employers may resist change and view these challenges as a threat to their authority. In such cases, the employer might take adverse actions against the employee to discourage others from questioning the status quo.
Whistleblowing refers to an employee exposing illegal or unethical activities within the company. It can, unfortunately, be another common trigger for retaliatory discrimination. Employers might fear legal consequences or harm to their reputations.
Organizing or joining a union
In workplaces where employees organize or join a union, employers might exhibit retaliatory discrimination to deter collective bargaining efforts. Malicious employers may view unions as a challenge to their control and financial interests.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that retaliation cases are the most frequent claims filed to the agency. In 2020 alone, there were 37,632 retaliation cases filed. If you experience workplace discrimination as a form of wrongful retaliation, you are not alone and you do have options.