It takes great courage for employees to speak up about abusive or illegal discrimination that they experience in the workplace. As an employee, you have the right to report any unfair actions you experience or witness at work.
Unfortunately, many employees fear that their employers will retaliate against them. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that just in 2019, the retaliation claims filed in California were more than half of all the claims filed in the state. There were 2,319 retaliation claims out of the total 4,276 claims.
Retaliation is sadly common. However, you have the power to take action.
It is important to note that retaliation is not always obvious
Employers generally want to avoid risks and penalties. Therefore, retaliation will not always be clear, as it might be when employers become hostile, harass employees or even terminate them.
In fact, some of the most common forms of retaliation include:
- Being left out of meetings or other important events repeatedly;
- Getting overlooked for a deserved promotion or raise; and
- Receiving the cold shoulder from colleagues.
Retaliation does not have to be extreme for it to be against the law.
So, what should you do?
There are a few important steps you should take if you experience retaliation, including:
- Learn your rights: California has several laws that explicitly protect you from discrimination or retaliation for engaging in protected actions. You should take the time to understand your rights under these laws.
- Document the retaliation: This is critical. You will need clear evidence of the retaliation to prove your claim. Record the details of the retaliation you experience, including the dates, times and happenings.
- Consider filing an internal complaint: Most workplaces must have policies and procedures to handle retaliation. Many people might be hesitant to file a claim internally when they are experiencing retaliation at work. However, it is often necessary to prove you filed a claim about the incident before you can pursue legal action.
- Contact an attorney: Experiencing discrimination and retaliation in the workplace is a stressful and overwhelming experience. Seeking counsel from an experienced employment law attorney can help you determine how you want to move forward with your claim and protect your rights.
You should not have to put up with illegal retaliation. Understanding how you can stand up to retaliation can help you take the first steps to obtain justice.