Wage and Salary Survey

Limit Your Liability-Retaliation is on the Rise

Liability is a concern to all corporations and can diminish profits as well as affect employee morale. The US equal employment opportunity commission “EEOC” announced an increase in complaints of retaliation for the 2nd year in a row. This surpasses complaints regarding violations of title the VII (discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion and national origin)

Human Resources Risk PhotoRetaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee because the employee takes a legally protective activity participating in a complaint against the employer.

Most retaliation suits are filed by employees who claim their bosses fired or mistreated them after they filed a discrimination claim or participated in a “whistle blowing” activity.

For an employee to assert a retaliation claim the following must be present. 1. The employee participated in a protective activity acting against unlawful activity. There was adverse employment action present (denial of a raise or termination, and there is a connection between the employees involvement in the protective activity and the adverse action from the employer).

Reasons for Increase in Retaliation

There are several proposed contributors for the increase in retaliation claims. A difficult economy, increasing employment rate has caused many employees to stay at their job instead of seeking employment else where when they are not pleased with the job activities and retaliate through unlawful employment practices. More employees would rather challenge their employer practices and decisions instead of changing their jobs.

A second contributor is an increased understanding of the laws governing retaliation by employees. Retaliation claims are often easier to prove then discrimination or harassment claims. Additionally in 2006 the US Supreme Court lowered the standers to win a retaliation claim under Federal and anti-discrimination laws specifically the court determined that the employer took an action that “might have dissuaded (to persuade a person not to do something) a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.”                                                                                                           

With soaring statistics in 2010 and now in 2011, evidence shows that retaliation complaints will continue to grow in 2012.


Ways to Avoid Retaliation

  • All employee manuals should have procedures to follow when a retaliation claim is made. The employee manuals should always be signed by the employees before the employee begins working for the company in which states that the employee has read and understands the following procedures of the manual.
  • Employers should research and become familiar with the laws governing retaliation.
  • Employers can mandate a Zero Tolerance Policy for retaliation.
  • All rise complaints should be kept confidential during the investigation to avoid the practice of retaliation.
  • All employee concerns should be brought forth and handled in a fair and consistent matter. This illustrates that every employee is governed under the same policies and procedures.