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Employee Retaliation Claims: Ways Companies Can Avoid this Escalating Workplace Risk

An aggressive Equal Employment Opportunity Commission puts employers at greater risk of worker retaliation claims, and that means they need to assess their employment practices liabilities and determine ways to mitigate them in their workplaces.

  1. Identify & Analyze

    Why retaliation claims continue to be a problem for employers

  2. Evaluate & Implement

    Using EEOC and court decisions to learn how to avoid these claims

  3. Monitor & Adjust

    Policies employers put in place to discourage retaliation

Retaliation by supervisors and company executives against employees for making discrimination, harassment, whistle-blower or other complaints is an expanding liability for employers that shows no signs of waning. ›› More

WASHINGTON—Retaliation charges filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased 3% in fiscal 2011 and accounted for the greatest portion of charges filed, though the total number of charges across all categories remained basically flat, the agency said. ›› More

Retaliation charges, which are the most common type of employment claim against companies, create thorny issues for employers that must be carefully managed. ›› More

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Retaliation facts

In this fact sheet, the EEOC defines adverse action, covered individuals and protected activity.

Annual Report on EEOC Developments: Fiscal Year 2011

A report on the EEOC by law firm Littler Mendelsohn P.C. discusses how the agency will continue to focus on systemic investigations and litigation.

A federal jury in Memphis, Tenn., has awarded four plaintiffs in a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case filed against a North Carolina-based logistics services provider more than $1.5 million in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. ›› More

With employee retaliation claims rising, employers need to make sure they are in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws that offer worker protections. Jeanne Oronzio Wermuth of The Graham Co. discusses the activities that constitute retaliation, as well as what employers can do to avoid putting themselves in that position in the first place ›› More

SEATTLE—A federal judge has ordered sanctions, including a $100,000 penalty against Fry's Electronics Inc., because of its actions in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit brought by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency said. ›› More

Three recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, along with a fourth ruling based on the Fair Labor Standards Act, are viewed by experts as expanding the scope of employees' retaliation protections under the law. ›› More

WASHINGTON—A New Jersey-based information technology staffing company agreed to settle a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit accusing the company of firing an employee for pointing out its allegedly biased hiring practices. ›› More

CINCINNATI—A company's “honest belief” that a worker had abused his disability leave shields it from being accused of retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act for his subsequent termination, says an appellate court. ›› More

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—The injunction against a car dealership forbidding it from retaliating against male employees who allege they were sexually harassed—and who, the judge found in the case of one former employee, received death threats—is extremely unusual, an EEOC attorney said. ›› More

LOS ANGELES—A California appellate court has overturned a $2.1 million jury verdict in a retaliation case brought by a Los Angeles police officer, concluding that the officer did not present evidence substantial enough to prove his claim. ›› More

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Honest belief ruling

The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a company can’t be charged with retaliation for firing a worker because it honestly thought, albeit perhaps mistakenly, that the worker was abusing the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Thorough investigation, good documentation and sometimes just tenacity are all factors that can help employers and their attorneys to ultimately prevail in retaliation cases, whether it is via court victory, dismissal of the charge, or being able to settle lawsuits for just nominal amounts. ›› More

In the past 15 years, the number of retaliation claims against American employers has skyrocketed as workers tack them on to charges of harassment or discrimination. These claims are an expensive proposition for any company to defend against. In this article, Anthony J. Oncidi and Adam Freed of the Proskauer Rose L.L.P. law firm offer tips on how to avoid and manage retaliation claims. ›› More

An adequate policy, detailed record-keeping and having someone objective to deal with the issue are among the strategies employers should deploy to avoid and defend retaliation claims. ›› More

Although it may seem counterintuitive, experts say it is not unusual for employers to successfully defend an underlying discrimination charge but still find themselves charged with retaliation. ›› More

Employers often can head off retaliation claims by training managers to proceed cautiously in employment decisions involving employees who have filed discrimination complaints, observers say. ›› More