What is retaliation?

Author: Shannon C. Johnson

Retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse employment action (e.g., termination, failure to promote) against an employee or applicant because he or she engaged in protected activity under a fair employment statute (e.g., opposed a discriminatory employment practice). However, an employer must be aware that the US Supreme Court has ruled that retaliation includes any action taken by an employer - whether job-related or not - that is materially adverse and could dissuade a reasonable employee or job applicant from exercising protected rights. See Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, +548 U.S. 53 (2006). Many state laws also prohibit retaliation against individuals who have engaged in protected activity under fair employment statutes.