EEOC, NLRB and DOL Join Forces to Counter Workplace Retaliation

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

November 12, 2021

Calling retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under federal labor laws "a persistent and urgent problem in American workplaces," the US Department of Labor (DOL), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) have announced a joint effort to raise awareness about retaliation issues.

The goal of the initiative is to increase collaboration among the agencies to:

  • Protect workers on issues of unlawful retaliatory conduct;
  • Educate the public; and
  • Engage with employers, business organizations, labor organizations and civil rights groups in the coming year.

To kick off the interagency initiative, the agencies have scheduled a virtual dialogue with employers on November 17 to discuss the importance of worker retaliation protections. They also will emphasize their commitment to enforce the various laws protecting workers.

The enforcement of labor laws only works when workers can speak out for themselves and their fellow workers without fearing or suffering from retaliation, Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda stated in a press release. Namda added that the DOL will use all tools available to it to fight against wage theft, misclassification, discrimination, unsafe or unhealthy workplaces and other unlawful employment practices. "This collaboration among federal labor enforcement agencies will form a bulwark against unlawful retaliation," said Nanda.

NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo reminded employers that it is unlawful for employers to retaliate against workers for taking collective action to improve their working conditions. "All too often, workers face adverse action for speaking out about their pay, health and safety issues, discrimination, or other working conditions," Abruzzo said. "These issues cut across multiple worker protection agencies, which is why it is so important to work collaboratively to effectively prevent and forcefully address retaliatory acts against workers."