How to Prevent Retaliation in the Workplace
- Step 1: Understand What Constitutes Protected Activity
- Step 2: Timely Document All Employee Discipline and Performance Issues
- Step 3: Draft and Distribute a Zero Tolerance Retaliation Policy
- Step 4: Conduct Supervisory Training Regarding Retaliation
- Step 5: Provide Training on Retaliation to All Employees
- Step 6: Establish a Multichannel Complaint System
- Step 7: Respond Effectively to the Complaining Employee
- Step 8: Conduct the Investigation
- Step 9: Consider Interim Measures During the Investigation
- Step 10: Make a Determination and Impose Discipline if Warranted
- Step 11: Continue to Follow Up With the Complainant
- Step 12: Do Not Take Adverse Action Against a Complaining Employee Based on the Employee's Complaint
- Step 13: Use Caution if Adverse Action Is Warranted for Unrelated Reasons
- Step 14: Consider All Federal and State Laws
- Additional Resources
Author: Sahara Pynes, HR Solutions Group/Training Mavens
Many federal, state and local laws addressing discrimination and harassment include provisions protecting employees who complain about discrimination and harassment from retaliation. Over the past decade, retaliation claims have risen dramatically and become much more prevalent and widespread.
While many employers take preventative measures to protect against harassment and discrimination, the issue of retaliation is equally important. Employees who engage in protected activity should be protected from retaliation. An employee's complaint or opposition to an employer's unlawful discrimination or harassment constitutes protected activity.
After an employee complains to an employer, frequently the employer fails to properly handle the complaint, and treats the employee in an adverse manner, thus giving rise to a claim for retaliation. To minimize liability for claims of retaliation, employers should take the following steps.