According to federal data, workplace retaliation is alarmingly common in California and across the United States. For instance, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that it received 39,469 charges of retaliation in 2018, which accounted for over 50% of all complaints filed that year.
Workplace retaliation occurs when employers take adverse action against employees who report discrimination, harassment, or safety violations. Some examples of adverse action include wrongful termination, demotion, denying a promotion, verbal harassment or threats, and reducing pay or benefits. While these actions are prohibited under federal and California law, some employers still try to get away with it.
According to experts, employees who believe they are being subjected to retaliation can do several things to protect themselves. First, a victim should try to proactively communicate with the person who is retaliating in an attempt to clarify any misunderstandings. Second, the employee should utilize internal procedures to report the incident or incidents to human resources. Of course, the employee also has the right to do nothing and remain silent about retaliation incidents in an effort to save his or her job. However, experts point out that this may only further embolden the perpetrator and escalate the problem.
Another option for employees subjected to workplace retaliation is to contact an employment attorney for legal assistance. An attorney could carefully review the details of the case, outline all possible legal remedies and advise how to properly document incidents of retaliation. If necessary, this documentation could be used to file a complaint with the EEOC or state agencies, which could result in a settlement for damages.