A massive disparity still exists in the average work environment between how many people experience discrimination or retaliation and how many people report it. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, three out of four people who are harassed in the workplace do not report the incident to their superiors. Some studies indicate that a mere 1% of workers who are subjected to discrimination file charges formally.
The EEOC’s data from 2020 also shows that claims involving retaliation included over half of the total claims filed that year, making it the most commonly asserted type of workplace harassment. In employment law, retaliation often requires complaints or opposition regarding discrimination, so the two go hand in hand with these types of claims.
With the complex blend of human characteristics, employees often have more than one trait that may be discriminated against or retaliated against. This results in a claim overlap and may impact the protections that a worker is entitled to.
Workers are protected by law from employer retaliation
The findings of the EEOC and some research institutions make the reality all too apparent that many employees are afraid of speaking out against their employers. One of the main concerns that workers face is the possibility that their boss will retaliate against them in some way. This may range from cutting hours to being fired, but it’s always devastating. When your employer is the gatekeeper between you and paying your bills, buying food, and supporting your family, making a formal complaint against them might seem like an ill-advised gamble.
However, workers should be aware that they are protected by employment law from employer retaliation. These protections prevent employers from taking any materially adverse action against their workers for complaining about discrimination. In fact, these protections are meant to prevent the very type of underreporting that’s still going on today. This makes it all the more important for workers in every industry to understand their rights.
Lodging a formal complaint against your employer for discrimination in the workplace is never an easy step to take. It’s made much less intimidating when you know that the law is on your side, and there are protections in place to prevent your employer from retaliating.