Focus: retaliation against workers opposing discrimination

On Behalf of | Jul 17, 2015 | Employee Rights

Given that American workers are protected against discrimination in the workplace by a number of federal and state laws (please see, for example, our June 15 entry discussing the Americans with Disabilities Act), it shouldn’t be surprising that protection also extends to cases where employees call out or otherwise oppose workplace discrimination, right?

Indeed, American laws against discrimination at the workplace would be largely ineffectual if they didn’t have teeth.

In other words: Ensuring anti-discriminatory behavior requires more than just laws on the books that ban it; additionally, legal protections against employer retaliation in instances where workers oppose discrimination — by complaining, threatening to file a legal charge, picketing against unlawful behavior, refusing to obey a discriminatory order and so forth — must also exist and be routinely enforced.

A relevant page of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website notes that the same level of protection exists for persons opposing unlawful employment discrimination as is the case when a worker is discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, religion and other key protected categories.

An experienced employment law attorney will know immediately what to look for in any case where an employer’s alleged retaliation against a worker opposing discrimination is at issue.

So-called “adverse actions” that are deemed flatly unlawful under federal and state laws centrally include employers’ actions taken against a worker opposing discrimination like the following:

  • Firing a worker
  • Denying meaningful promotion opportunities
  • Unfairly denigrating an employee in evaluations and performance reviews
  • Singling out an employee for special surveillance

Any worker who feels that he or she is being retaliated against by an employer for engaging in lawful activity focused upon opposition to workplace discrimination might reasonably want to contact a proven employment law attorney for advice and legal representation.


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