Is retaliation in the workplace always illegal?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2019 | Employee Rights |

Much has been said on this blog about standing up for what is right and raising a voice against any type of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. However, one common reason employees remain silent is because they are afraid of retaliation in the office. Given how common it is, they have cause to be anxious about it. Retaliation is the most common discrimination finding in cases in the federal sector. Retaliation can be devastating for the person being subjected to it, which is why it is important to know what employee rights one has.

As per the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is illegal to punish job applicants and employees for asserting their rights to be free from discrimination in the workplace, which also includes harassment. When someone asserts his or her rights, this is known as a protected activity. However, not all forms of retaliation is illegal, which is why it’s important for Minneapolis residents to understand the law surrounding it.

Retaliation is only illegal if the action that took place before is protected by law. Generally, retaliation against sexual harassment, racial discrimination and concerted workplace activities is almost always illegal. Even an unfounded complaint can be protected, therefore making retaliation illegal, but this is not always the case. The question often hinges around whether the complaining employee sincerely believed that what they reported was illegal.

Not all cases of discrimination and harassment are distinctly visible, which is why employees may be confused about what rights they have and what will happen if they complain. Speaking about one’s situation with an experienced attorney may prove helpful in that case.