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3 subtle forms of workplace retaliation

When you think of retaliation in the workplace, you may assume it is an obvious and immediate action. For example, you may think of an employee reporting an unsafe working condition and then receiving threats of termination. Another example is an employee reporting sexual harassment and getting subsequently fired. 

While these types of retaliatory actions certainly occur, sometimes they are more subtle. Bosses may partake in more insidious acts that may fly under the radar of whistleblower laws and employee protections. Here are a few subdued ways you may experience retaliation: 

1. Exclusion

If you report discrimination, unsafe conditions or file a workers compensation claim, you may not get fired as a direct result. Instead, your supervisors and coworkers may start to exclude you from workplace and social activities. If you feel ostracized from meetings or work decisions, this may constitute unlawful retaliation. 

2. Denial of a promotion

You have legal protections for exposing illegal practices, whistleblowing or requesting reasonable accommodations. Despite the fact that the law safeguards you, your employer may engage in illegal behavior. But instead of outright firing or demoting you, your employer may simply pass you over for a promotion that you deserve. For example, if you have all the qualifications for a higher position, submit an application but someone else less qualified gets the job, this may be suspicious, especially if your boss does this in response to protected activities. 

3. Hostile treatment

Your boss may not want to terminate you, which is a clearcut sign of retaliation. Instead, you could start to become the victim of hostility. You may find that your higher-ups or peers start to verbally abuse you or give you the cold shoulder. This type of behavior may affect your ability to perform your job properly. 

As you can see, workplace retaliation is not always prominent. Rather, it can consist of mild actions. Nonetheless, retaliation is always unlawful.

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