If you have made a complaint at work related to Equal Employment Opportunity laws, you may be at risk for retaliation from your boss. A boss who fires an employee after that person has made an EEO complaint is an obvious form of retaliation. However, sometimes the retaliation is not as clear.
The law against retaliation in the workplace is meant to protect employees who have reported violations, such as speaking with a manager about harassment or refusing to follow orders that involve wrongdoing or discrimination. If a supervisor's actions after an employee makes a complaint are something that would likely discourage other employees from reporting, it could be considered retaliation, depending on the facts.
Here are some possible forms of subtle retaliation:
- Performance review comments. Did your supervisor's comments on a performance review concern you? What might seem like a small comment such as "not a team player" could be an act of retaliation, especially if the reprimand makes a performance review lower than it should be given the quality of your work.
- Micromanagement. Is your boss suddenly trying to control every part of your work, no matter how small the task is?
- Sudden exclusion. Did a supervisor change his or her mind about your involvement in certain meetings or projects?
- Change in duties. Was there an assignment change?
- Change in work schedule. Could your employer be punishing you for making a complaint by knowingly changing your work schedule to cause you difficulties?
Changes that have an adverse effect on your employment may be in retaliation for what the law calls "protected activities." Retaliation can take many different forms, but often is not immediate or obvious. It can involve very slight differences and slow to occur. It also can be difficult to prove because of the subjectivity involved, which opens the door for employers to deny retaliation. Even so, employees have the right to investigate their options when dealing with this kind of situation at their workplace.
Retaliation can hurt a career and have a negative impact on your earning potential. Don't sit back and take it. A consultation with an experienced employment law attorney can help you determine your legal options.