From 2000 to 2010, the number of retaliation claims filed each year with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) nearly doubled — from 19,694 in 2000 to 37,836 in 2012. In fact, retaliation is alleged more frequently than any other kind of discrimination.
What is retaliation?
Retaliation is an adverse action taken by employer against an employee because he or she complained about harassment or discrimination or participated in another protected activity. Examples of adverse employment actions include demoting, reassigning and terminating an employee.
To claim retaliation, an employee must show that:
He/she engaged in a protected activity such as filing a complaint of discrimination or testifying before an agency
The employer acted against the employee
The employee’s involvement in activities protected by the law instigated the adverse employment action
The California Labor Code’s provisions on retaliation mirror the EEOC’s.
Strategies to prevent retaliation
Retaliation is the buzzword in employment discrimination law. California employers can take the following four steps to minimize claims of retaliation:
Promulgate a policy against retaliation — Before an employee sues you for retaliation, establish a program to educate your company about retaliation and announce that the company does not tolerate retaliation in any form.
Cooperate with the complaining employee — Show the complainant that you recognize the seriousness of the allegations and that you have already instituted a program to prevent this conduct. Attempt to resolve the problem internally through investigation and appropriate disciplinary action.
Preserve confidentiality — Handle the complaint quickly and quietly.
Leave a paper trail — Record everything that occurs so you have a paper trail showing everything you did to prevent retaliation.