Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Recognizing subtle forms of retaliation in the workplace

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2022 | Discrimination

Employees often hesitate to complain about workplace mistreatment, harassment or discrimination for fear of facing severe forms of retaliation. Many workers equate workplace retaliation with demotion, poor performance reviews or termination. In fact, there are countless examples of retaliation that might ultimately go unnoticed.

Extreme forms of retaliation are generally easy to uncover and highlight. More subtle forms, though, can be just as devastating and harder to recognize for the danger they are. For example, an employer might attempt to camouflage the retaliation behind “the needs of the organization,” but when these changes only seem to impact one worker or a small group of employees, there might be nefarious reasons behind them. Subtle forms of retaliation can include:

  • Transferring a worker to a less-desirable department
  • Transferring a worker to a less-desirable shift
  • Preventing the worker from attending meetings or events
  • Increasing an employee’s workload
  • Overlooking the worker for promotions or requested department transfers
  • Holding the employee to an unnecessarily high standard not shared by other workers
  • Reducing a worker’s hours due to the needs of the business

Many workers who speak up about workplace harassment or discrimination face retaliation. Fortunately, there are legal protections in place.

Often, employers avoid termination, demotion or a poor performance review that can be tied directly back to the act of the employee raising awareness about mistreatment. However, there are countless examples of more subtle forms of retaliation designed to frustrate or punish a worker who has spoken up against workplace discrimination. Unfortunately, the ultimate goal of this retaliation is to pressure the worker to leave the organization. Do not stand for any type of workplace retaliation. Seek the guidance of an experienced legal professional if you feel mistreated at work.