Can my boss punish me for reporting discrimination?

You may be one of few minority employees at your workplace. You’ve noticed that despite good performance reviews and your willingness to take on extra responsibilities, you haven’t received a promotion. You’ve been working there for five years and have interviewed for multiple higher-paying jobs. You feel like you might be the victim of discrimination, but you are afraid to report it.

You wonder if you will face punishment for making a complaint. Yet, can your boss punish you or fire you for reporting discrimination?

Understanding retaliation for reporting discrimination or harassment

Federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report workplace discrimination or harassment. As a result, employers can’t punish or fire you for:

  • Filing a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or being a witness in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation or lawsuit
  • Making a discrimination or harassment complaint to a supervisor or company manager
  • Informing a human resources representative about a discrimination or harassment complaint
  • Refusing to follow orders that would result in discriminating against someone else
  • Answering questions in an investigation conducted by your employer about alleged discrimination or harassment

You also may not know exactly what workplace retaliation entails. It goes beyond receiving a reprimand or even losing your job because of making a discrimination complaint. Retaliation also includes:

  • You receive a job transfer to a less desirable position after making a discrimination complaint.
  • You face increased scrutiny of your work after making a discrimination complaint.
  • You receive an unwarranted poor performance review.
  • Your supervisor makes your job more difficult or purposely changes your schedule to conflict with your family responsibilities.

Unfortunately, more than 53% of workplace discrimination complaints are related to retaliation. More complaints are made about retaliation than discrimination or harassment themselves.

When you experience retaliation for making a discrimination claim

If you think you are experiencing retaliation after making a discrimination claim, you should consult an experienced employment law attorney. Alan C. Olson & Associates helps workers hold their employers accountable when they have faced discrimination.


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