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How are companies doing protecting workers from retaliation?

On Behalf of | Feb 10, 2021 | Workplace Retaliation

When it comes to evaluating companies’ effectiveness in safeguarding employees against workplace retaliation, what does reliable evidence suggest regarding their performance?

Nothing salutary from a generalized perspective, for sure. And if report cards were handed out on that score to individual enterprises, many of them would receive dismally failing grades.

Retaliation protection is not a company prerogative: it’s the law

Companies in southeastern Florida and spanning the county do not have discretion in deciding whether to safeguard workers from retaliation based on personal characteristics or their lawful conduct at the workplace.

Indeed, a slew of federal, state and local rules and regulations – as well as firmly established statutory and case law – prominently spotlight workers’ protections against unlawful company reprisals.

Those are manifestly necessary. Even a cursory examination of American labor history underscores that workers have historically battled with employers in legions of instances to safeguard their on-the-job rights and resist retaliatory efforts to harm them. Relevant and progressively evolving protections now bar unlawful employer conduct (whether carried out by a company leader, manager, co-worker or any other company employee) aimed at these and additional worker attributes:

  • Race and national origin
  • Pregnancy or gender
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Disability

Additionally, workers cannot be targeted for unfair treatment for engaging in legal rights linked with free speech, union participation, the calling out of company acts of malfeasance/fraud and other permitted activities. Employer responses ranging from demotion, failed promotion, wage cuts, job transfer or termination are instantly suspect.

Back to that above-cited report card. It reveals some troubling information relevant to many employers’ rules and policies surrounding workplace retaliation.

Comprehensive survey findings re on-the-job retaliation

Obviously, companies should be smart and proactive about having adequate anti-retaliation safeguards in place.

As noted in one Florida legal source addressing employers and worker retaliation, “There are several ways that employers can guard themselves against a claim of retaliation.” Prudent companies have clear written manuals and guidelines that spell out absolute prohibitions against unlawful conduct and detail a clear path for addressing it. They assure whistleblowers and other employees that they are safe at work. They take swift and meaningful actions against wrongdoers.

Candidly, though, that is not the universal norm. A recently released comprehensive survey on the way that companies view and follow through on workplace retaliation highlights faltering performance at many enterprises. Here are some relevant takeaways:

  • Retaliation is the predominant form of on-the-job discrimination in the United States
  • Many companies tend to view retaliation in notably narrow terms, ignoring things like job relocation, dismissal from work groups and altered schedules
  • Many companies don’t properly train workers regarding retaliation issues
  • More than 30% of surveyed companies don’t even have a policy to address retaliation

Employees have myriad and hard-earned rights at the workplace. They can turn for proven and aggressive help to a results-oriented employment law legal team when those rights are undermined at the workplace and they experience unlawful retaliation.