Retaliation in the workplace comes in various shapes and forms – but it always comes after some form of complaint against your employer. The complaint could be about you or someone else at work experiencing some kind of harassment and/or discrimination. You may have pushed back against something your manager or supervisor wanted you to do that you believe to be unethical or illegal. You may have filed a complaint against your manager with HR that triggers more negative treatment by your employer. You may have vigorously objected to an unfairly negative performance review.
What are Examples of Retaliation in the Workplace?
Retaliation comes in a variety of forms, including (but not limited to:)
- ongoing negative performance evaluations
- being excluded from meetings
- being removed from important and high-profile work assignments
- being openly criticized in front of teammates
- not being approved for conferences and trips that peers are attending or that you have attended in the past
- being placed on a performance improvement plan or in some form of workplace “coaching”
Ultimately, these actions will culminate in a demotion, suspension, or termination.
How Do I Know I’m Being Retaliated Against?
You will know retaliation when you feel it. This negative treatment usually comes close in time or builds momentum after objections to what your supervisor is doing or wants you to do. Make sure you are documenting the underlying complaints and your ongoing experiences with retaliation in the workplace. Keep a journal. Email HR or your manager’s manager. Remember, by the time the treatment begins to feel unbearable, the dye has already been cast. Your manager has likely already decided that you are not a “team player” and that your termination date is near.
How to Prove Retaliation in the Workplace
Many employees hesitate to document their concerns and/or reactions to their supervisor’s negative treatment for fear of this retaliation. However, stepping back from the situation to view the totality of the circumstances will show you that the retaliation is already in full swing and that you must document it to protect yourself. Documenting your retaliation experiences with HR gives you greater leverage in (a) delaying the termination, (b) allowing for a severance negotiation, and (c) putting the employer on notice of their manager’s actions.
In addition to documenting the negative and disparate treatment that you are experiencing, also ask questions and ask for HR’s help and guidance on how to navigate the situation. Often, employees who retain counsel before termination are in a better position to negotiate a separation package when the termination eventually happens.
Empower and educate yourself to protect yourself from retaliation in the workplace. Remember that the company’s HR department is designed to protect the employer and not you. Reach out to Hamilton Law Firm for assistance resolving issues related to retaliation in the workplace.