New EEOC Retaliation Guidelines Issued as Claims Increase

Reporting misconduct, filing a claim related to harassment or discrimination, or making a complaint against your employer can often result in an act of retaliation. This could mean demotion or job loss, but there are also more subtle acts of retaliation that can negatively impact your experience in the workplace. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 45 percent of all claims received by the agency are related to retaliation, making it the most alleged basis of discrimination. The EEOC recently issued new guidelines that help to outline and clarify how the agency enforces retaliation statutes.

What is retaliation?
Several federal laws prevent employers from retaliating against employees or applicants who report or oppose illegal conduct. The laws enforced by the EEOC include, but not limited to, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act. Under these laws, employees are protected from discrimination based on age, disability, race, national origin and gender.

Retaliation occurs when an employer takes a “materially adverse” action against an employee or applicant who asserts rights protected by the EEOC. This includes any employer action that might deter a reasonable person from engaging in protect activity, such as reporting unlawful discrimination.

What can I do if was fired for reporting discrimination?
In most cases, retaliation is subtle and may include a change in shifts or hours, threats, demotion, negative evaluations, or a change in treatment at the workplace that creates a hostile working environment. Retaliation could also be more clear-cut if you were terminated from your position following a report of employer misconduct. Whether you were fired or have been the target of adverse employment action, you may need legal support to protect your rights. Consult with an experienced employment attorney who can properly review the facts of your case and seek all available remedies.

Important highlights from the new EEOC retaliation guidelines:
  • It is unlawful to retaliate against an employee or applicant for taking part in an internal or external EEO-related investigation.
  • Employer’s unlawful conduct may involve discrimination, harassment, pay inequity, accommodation for disability or religion or actions taken after employment ends.
  • An interference provision of the ADA prohibits coercion, threats or other acts that interfere with the exercise of employee rights under the ADA.
  • The guidelines also include detailed examples of employer actions that may constitute unlawful retaliation.

Protect Your Rights Against Retaliation
If you believe you have suffered unlawful retaliation, our attorneys want to hear from you. Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP is dedicated to protecting employee rights in Minneapolis, St. Paul and throughout Minnesota. Contact us at 612-252-3570 or click here for a free initial consultation.