Recent Increase in Claims of Workplace Retaliation

In 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported retaliation complaints in record numbers due to employee’s ability to sue their employer if they feel as if they are being retaliated against for their involvement in a protected activity.

Retaliation typically occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an individual employee over an activity that they are engaged in. These activities may be protected by federal and state whistle blower laws, or anti-discrimination laws. The EEOC reports that 51.6% of all charges filed in the fiscal year of 2018, were workplace retaliation claims. These claims usually fall under one of these federal, state or local laws passed to ensure protections for individual employees:

• Occupational safety and health (OSHA)

• Race, sex, national origin, religion, and color (all under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Equal Pay Act)

• Union organizing (National Labor Relations Act)

• Age (Age Discrimination in Employment Act)

• Employee benefits (ERISA)

• Disability (Americans with Disabilities Act)

• Family and medical leave (Family and Medical Leave Act)

• U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Dodd-Frank Act)

• Wage and hour issues (Fair Labor Standards Act)

• Formal participation in a legal proceeding involving the employer, such as filing a charge with the EEOC, testifying, or otherwise “assisting” in a proceeding; or

• Less formally “opposing” any unlawful conduct that may also be subject to an anti-retaliation provision. The EEOC notes that protected “opposition” activity “. . . broadly includes the many ways in which an individual may communicate” either explicit or implicit opposition to perceived employment discrimination.

There are endless possibilities of actions that can be considered unlawful retaliation from an employer. A claim cam be filed even i f a complaint has not been made with the human resources department or upper management.

Unlawful Retaliation Does Not Need to be Work Related

Retaliation can be anything that keeps an employee from reporting harassment or any other unlawful activity. It can even occur after the employee is no longer working at that job. The act of retaliation does not have to have occurred in the place of employment or be work related at all.