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Workplace retaliation isn't limited to the drastic action of firing — the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protects most workers from forms of retaliation, including giving poor performance evaluations, demoting employees and even verbal abuse.
Most employers with 15 or more employees must abide by Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws, which protect employees from being punished for asserting their rights.
Protected actions include filing or being a witness in an EEO complaint, answering questions in a harassment investigation and requesting accommodation because of a disability or religious practice.
Examples of workplace retaliation include:
- Transferring the employee to a less desirable position
- Making an employee's work more difficult
- Increasing scrutiny of the employee
- Spreading rumors about the employee
- Retaliating against the employee's family (the EEOC gives the example of ending a contract with an employee's spouse)
The coronavirus pandemic has created another source of workplace tension as many workers in essential industries continue to go to work despite the risks.
Employees considering filing an EEOC charge can visit this webpage.