Understanding what qualifies as workplace retaliation

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2020 | Employment Law

Retaliating against an employee because they reported an incident, is illegal and punishable by law in Minnesota. Workers have the right to express their concerns confidentially without fear of retribution.

Companies that implement resources to provide employees with a safe and private way to discuss concerns may prevent retaliation claims and better incentivize their workers to treat each other with respect and professionalism.

Discipline vs. retaliation

There are undoubtedly situations where employers need to discipline a worker for various reasons related to their conduct. If this is necessary, leaders must prepare evidence supporting their actions against the employee in question. Companies must also provide considerable information regarding their disciplinary policies so employees can more easily identify if their treatment is retaliatory.

According to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, retaliatory behavior can take on many looks including threats, unfair reprimands, biased performance reviews, verbal or physical abuse and demotion. Spreading rumors and acting with increased scrutiny are also other methods of retaliation.

The need for confidentiality

Companies that prioritize developing and maintaining a private way for employees to share and address complaints may exert better control over the outcome of such situations. The Society for Human Resource Management suggests the use of an internal hotline where employees can anonymously contact an appropriate party to share their concerns without fear of retribution because of their actions. A focused approach to addressing complaints may also minimize the time it takes for leaders to develop and implement a solution to prevent the problem from worsening or affecting other employees. Additionally, companies that demonstrate their support and understanding for concerned employees may more effectively develop a culture that helps their workers to feel comfortable and respected.