Workplace retaliation and your rights

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2023 | Employment Law

Every worker in Missouri deserves respect regardless of their area of expertise and industry. Employees have certain legal rights at work but may still be punished for exercising them. This is considered workplace retaliation, which is illegal.

Understanding workplace retaliation

Workplace retaliation occurs when a supervisor, manager or even employer terminates a worker for reporting something inappropriate or illegal occurring at work. For example, a female employee is the target of sexual harassment at the hands of her direct supervisor. She reports the behavior to the company’s human resources department and is later informed that her services are no longer needed. There is no other issue involving her in the workplace, as she recently got a positive employee review. Being let go in these circumstances strongly indicates that she has been fired for reporting her supervisor for sexual harassment.

Reporting things that are illegal or unethical in the workplace is often a precursor to retaliation. However, retaliation may also occur when a worker does or tries to do something that is their legal right. For instance, a medical professional puts in a request for vacation time and is not terminated, but their pay is suddenly slashed. The employer claims this pay cut is due to their requested time off. This is illegal, as it’s the worker’s right to take vacation time if they have not already used up those days.

Responding to workplace retaliation

Employees who have faced workplace retaliation have a right to respond. The first thing to do in that situation is to learn about the labor laws and consult with the state Department of Labor. Gather all of the appropriate documentation and file a complaint, so the Department of Labor can investigate the matter.

You may be called in for an interview with an investigator for the Department of Labor to determine what happened in your workplace. Answer all questions honestly and provide as much detail as possible. If everything is valid, your employer will be investigated to get to the bottom of things and rectify the retaliation.

Workplace retaliation is illegal but still happens in some places. Knowing your rights is crucial for protecting yourself and taking action.