Say you saw your employer do something illegal, such as engaging in illegal workplace discrimination, either against yourself or against a fellow coworker. Would you speak up? Would you report the wrongdoing to the proper authorities? While employees have the right to do just these things without fear of retaliation, it is an unfortunate fact that in 2006 alone, over 10,000 discrimination retaliation claims were reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retaliation, even though it is illegal, does take place in Minnesota workplaces far too often.
Employers may retaliate against employees who oppose or report sexual harassment or discrimination, such as racial discrimination, national origin discrimination, age discrimination or gender discrimination against a coworker. Exposing violations of wage and hour laws or exposing health code or OSHA violations could also lead to retaliation.
Retaliation can take a number of forms. There may be increased harassment, either against the employee who reported it or the original victim of harassment. Perhaps the employee will be demoted or forced to undergo an unwanted transfer. The employee might be bypassed for a promotion or lose other career opportunities. There might be unjustified negative performance reviews or, in the worst of cases, wrongful termination.
In the end, employees should not have to fear retaliation for opposing the wrongful or illegal acts of their employers. However, it is a fact of life that retaliation occurs. When that happens, it is good to have an attorney by your side. An attorney can assess the situation to determine what your rights are and advocate for your interests. The law firm of John A. Klassen, PA has a webpage on retaliation in the workplace that might be of help.