Every employee has the right to work in a safe environment, free from hostility, discrimination, and harassment from colleagues and supervisors. If any employee feels that he or she has been a victim of such hostility, discrimination or harassment in the workplace, he or she has the right to file a complaint with Human Resources or a lawsuit against his or her employer to try to have the situation rectified. This includes the right to file such a grievance without the fear of retaliation from the employer for doing so. This is covered by the same law that protects employees’ rights to a hostility-free work environment, 49.60 RCW.
Retaliation is defined as any action taken against an employee for daring to file a discrimination or harassment claim against his or her employer. Some examples of retaliation include:
- Termination of employment;
- Unjustified poor performance reviews;
- Negative references without valid claims;
- Denial of promotion;
- Refusal to hire;
- Any type of threat, whether related to the job or not;
- Increased, unjustified surveillance of the employee while he or she is at work; and
- Criminal or civil charges against the employee.
Standing up against discrimination and harassment in the workplace is a protected activity under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Video – Attorney Daniel Kalish explains Retaliation
Who Are Covered Individuals and What Are Protected Activities?
Covered individuals are any individual employees or closely-involved individuals who have opposed or filed formal complaints about discrimination based on age, sex, religion, national origin, immigration status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, or color in the workplace. If an employee has requested any type of reasonable accommodation in his or her job or participated in proceedings against a company in a discrimination suit, he or she is a protected individual.
Covered individuals are not individuals who have opposed the moral, ethical, or financial decisions made by a company.
Protected activities are all activities done in protest of workplace discrimination and attempts to fix any discrimination-related problems within a company. Examples of protected activities include complaints to other employees about experiences with discrimination, threats of formal complaints to lawsuits against the company, refusing to obey orders or carry out tasks that one believes to be discriminatory, and picketing in protest of any discrimination coming from the company.
Any unlawful acts, such as threats or actions of violence against the company, are not protected activities. Additionally, any actions that interfere with an employee’s ability to do his or her job duties are not protected.
Employment Attorneys Can Help
If you have experienced any form of retaliation from your employer after any complaint of discrimination in your workplace, call the experienced team of attorneys at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at 206-838-2504 to discuss the specific details of your case and learn more about how you can proceed toward a positive solution. HKM Employment Attorneys LLP has a history of making positive changes for employees in Washington state.