Retaliation is among the most common forms of employer misconduct. An employee reports sexual harassment, or fraud or racial discrimination and finds herself or himself fired or facing other negative consequences at work. An employee chooses to exercise the right to family medical leave and finds the position terminated in the interim. A worker files a claim for a workplace injury and is let go for missing work. Employers can fire workers for a wide variety of reasons, but they cannot retaliate against workers who choose to exercise their rights. An employee who has been the victim of retaliation should consider filing a lawsuit.
According to Equal Employment Opportunity laws, retaliation is "when an employer unlawfully takes action against an individual in punishment for exercising rights protected by any of the EEO laws." The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not handle all types of retaliation, but a significant percentage of the claims it handles are based on these allegations. EEOC data shows that 43 percent of the bias charges it handled for private sector employers were based on accusations of retaliation.
Federal employees and job applicants are protected from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy status, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Employees are further protected from retaliation for engaging in protected behaviors, such as filing a discrimination complaint. When a victim of discrimination files a claim with a federal agency, that claim may be dismissed for several reasons. After such a dismissal, the employee or applicant can file an appeal with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).