While employees in Minnesota may be aware that they are protected from retaliation from their employers if they assert their right to work in an atmosphere free from discrimination. But, what is included in a protected activity: an activity that it is illegal for someone to retaliate against an employee for? And what can be considered retaliation?
It is unlawful for an employee to be retaliated against for filing or being witness to a Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge, complaint, investigation or lawsuit; for refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination; for resisting sexual advances or for intervening to protect others; or for requesting an accommodation for a disability. Participating in a complaint is a protected action in all circumstances, but engaging in this activity does not protect an employee from all types of disciplinary action. If the disciplinary action or termination is motivated by non-discriminatory behavior, then employers can go ahead and do it.
Depending on the facts of the situation, retaliation could include transferring the employee to a less desirable position, engaging in physical or verbal abuse, increasing scrutiny or giving a performance evaluation lower than it would otherwise be. Additionally, if an employer is making someone’s job more difficult than it would otherwise be, it might also count as retaliation.
Complaining about unwanted behavior, such as sexual harassment or unwanted sexual advances, is a protected activity under the EEOC and employees should assert their right to do so. They also have the right to be protected against retaliation for standing up for themselves.