Fighting Back Against Workplace Retaliation: What Employees Need To Know

Editorial Team

What Employees Need To Know

Are you a workplace retaliation victim and desire to know how you can fight back? Relax. This post has everything you should know. Nowadays, retaliation in the workplace has become a common issue. If you are not bold enough, you will find it tough to stand up to your colleagues or boss once they retaliate against you. Don’t be that person. Know your rights and learn the different ways of fighting back. Keep on reading this article to be on the safe side.

Examples Of Retaliation In The Workplace

1. Being Fired For Making A Complaint

As an employee, you can file a lawsuit against your employer for many reasons. A good example is unfair treatment because of gender, religion or race. Sometimes, the employer or the manager might respond defensively to this action. For instance, they can try taking the matter into their hands by firing you to do away with the issue. Such an action by the employer is considered retaliation. This is because they are responding to protected action you, as the employee, took against them.

2. Demotion

At times, you are likely to be demoted. Demotion means being given a different title that negatively impacts the employee. Otherwise, you may have your pay go down. When demoting you, the employer will likely prevent you from making further complaints. Otherwise, they could indirectly send your colleagues a message concerning the things they cannot tolerate.

Demotion as a result of complaining in the workplace because of something not favouring you is wrong. Other employees will feel they are not supposed to report any issue they are going through in that environment. This, in return, encourages further harassment and discrimination. Another retaliation form in the workplace that falls under the demotion aspect is when you are moved to another office or department or reduce the hours you have been working.

3. Leaving You Out

It is normal for a company to have meetings regularly. Else, they hold social activities and training sessions. And you might realize the employees are taking the opportunity to give out their complaints regarding the work. Unfortunately, the employer may choose to leave the meeting because of the complaints that have been made.

On the other hand, an employer may choose to take you off a big account for no reason other than the complaints you made concerning being harassed by a colleague or the manager. In general, this is not related to title or pay. However, the employee has been denied an opportunity to participate in that project. Such actions may sound obvious. But you may take time to realize a change. You may take time to find out that your department has been having meetings without your consent. This is retaliation in the workplace; you must be cautious about it.

4. Taking Away Benefits And Perks

Some employers will take away some, if not all, the perks and benefits you had enjoyed before you raised a complaint. An excellent example of these benefits is using a government car as part of the job. This is an explicit punishment when you realize other employees still enjoy the perks and benefits. This is a workplace retaliation that most employers do if they don’t want to demote or fire you.

5. Reassignment

You can also know that you are experiencing workplace retaliation if you file a claim only to find out that you are now reassigned to a job with duties below your abilities. For instance, the employer may relocate you to make it difficult for you to complete the assigned tasks. Alternatively, the employer or the manager can take you where there is limited access to the necessary resources.

6. Further Harassment

Retaliation in the workplace may be in the form of harassment or discrimination. If a manager or the employer is aware you are complaining about them, anger comes first. And in revenge, the employer or the manager may choose to punish you further. This can be in the form of harassing you indirectly. Harassment by the employer or the manager can be done in three forms.

  • Verbal harassment.
  • Physical harassment.
  • Sexual harassment.

Be aware of how the employer treats you when you are on good terms. If you have complained about them, the working environment may remain hostile or uncomfortable. If the outcomes are harassment, that is an excellent example of workplace retaliation.

7. You Are Passed Over For A Promotion

Sometimes, your boss will not fire you or demote you. Instead, they will retaliate against you by not promoting you or giving you a raise. In general, no employee is entitled to a promotion or raise. But your employer or manager must have non-retaliatory reasons for passing you over.

If you realize a funny experience of the employer passing you over when promoting others, it is wise to ask them why they are overlooking you. If your employer admits they are passing you over because of the complaints you raised concerning your discrimination, you have a reason to file a case concerning workplace retaliation. At times, they will give you reasons that sound fishy. In such a case, try getting help from a professional legal representative.

8. Suffering Workplace Bullying

When you report discriminatory behaviour in your workplace, your colleagues or the employer may become unhappy. The outcomes of this can be isolation or bullying. Bullying generally involves verbal abuse, physical violence, threats or harassment. When you are a victim of this, file abuse documents carefully. Next, reach out to a professional lawyer with a proper understanding of workplace retaliation and discuss your case.

9. Cut Pay/Hours

Another typical example of retaliation in the workplace is docking your pay or the number of work hours. But this is dependent on your situation. For instance, a company can choose to cut your working hours despite knowing you are facing some medical issues. It is illegal to do this intentionally. You have the right to file for a retaliation case in this case.

10. Post-Employment Retaliation

Suppose you were fired from the workplace or chose to resign from the retaliation. Of course, you cannot stay at home. Hence, you will begin looking for another job. Nowadays, most employers demand to have a reference from your previous employers. Unfortunately, your previous employer from where you experienced the retaliation can choose to give adverse references. In addition, they can spread falsehoods concerning the time you were at the company. This is wrong as you will find it hard to land another job.

Ways To Fight Back Retaliation In The Workplace

If you are a workplace retaliation victim, don’t just give up. You must look for helpful ways to fight back. Gladly, there are several ways you can consider to help you out. They are as follows.

1. Look For A Legal Representative

Retaliation in the workplace can be complicated. Hence, fighting back the void of a law expert can be more challenging. Note that not all legal representatives have specialized in such cases. Look for one with knowledge of how to file a discrimination complaint. These complaints are likely to go hand in hand with other factors. Thus, a knowledgeable lawyer can advise you on the best direction. Proving workplace retaliation cases in courts is somehow tricky. This is because of their challenging nature. But, with the proper guidance, you have a guarantee of achieving the right outcome.

2. Know Company Policies

Before signing an employment contract with a specific company, familiarize yourself with its policies and procedures. Unfairly enforcing these policies can cause secondary complaints such as discrimination.

As an employee, you can easily spot missteps only if you know what the company expects of you and the consequences of not complying. Nowadays, a lot of companies discuss these important matters during the onboarding process. Furthermore, there are those regular refreshers for all their employees to make sure everybody is aware of the company’s policies. Consider getting a copy and going through it carefully. It will help you out once an issue arises.

3. Speak To Your Hr Or Manager

You can speak to the human resource department or the manager when you have gone through the company’s policies and procedures. Take your time to speak to HR about the retaliation with confidence. Some of the things you can include during your talk include:

  • Legally protected actions you decided to take.
  • The time the retaliation act began.
  • Retaliation types you have undergone or are going through at the moment.
  • How the workplace retaliation affected your personal and professional life.

When talking to HR, try to be calm and stick to the facts. Doing this helps make sure your claims make sense to HR. And they can decide what action to take based on what details you submit.

Note that it is wise to report retaliation in the workplace immediately. The employer ought to know about it to be responsible for it. In case there is a policy for the employees to follow any time they are reporting harassment or retaliation, it is wise to follow it closely as you can. The best way to file the report is in the form of writing. Otherwise, you can verbalize it in a meeting and then write a summary.

4. Gather Information

If the circumstances in your workplace are undesirable and have possible repercussions, it is wise to keep a record of the incidents. When doing this, remember to cite the time and date. Also, it is advisable to indicate the people present and what happened.

With the correct details of the incident, it becomes easier for a legal representative to give you the right and best advice regarding the claim. This is mainly if it is filed. The gathered information must be accurate and reliable. Besides, has it been corroborated by another person not present in the incident? Prior to representing it to a lawyer, ensure the information is in the correct order. This might become the basis of the complaint.

5. Avoid Confrontations

Typically, you will find yourself challenging something you know is unjust or unfair. It is advisable to be in control and calm when responding to them. Doing this can fend off adverse reactions from the other party. For instance, if you have been denied leave, it is wise to take your time to discuss it with the supervisor or the manager. 

Note that there might be a good reason for the denial. If case workplace retaliation arises from such a situation, the best thing you can do is to contact an expert before becoming vindictive and taking the matter upon yourself. It is not appropriate to resolve the issue through revenge because you might cause more trouble or damages that might even land you in jail. Rather, follow the proper channels and let the matter be resolved procedurally.

6. Be A Whistleblower

At times, employees can find it challenging to voice their concerns. Such a situation arises when one or more superiors are responsible for that. And because you are already in the state, be bold enough to ensure the behaviour does not reach other employees. Be that person who will assist others to stand up and fight for their rights. Support such employees by having the courage to report their employers. Remember, every employee has the right to fair treatment and vindictive actions-free.

7. Educate Others

Sometimes, you realize your fellow employees are unaware of the company’s policies and procedures. Therefore, they might subject themselves to unjust treatment unwillingly just because they do not know their rights. When you have a proper understanding of your rights and freedoms, enlighten your colleagues. When everyone is aware of their right, they are empowered to defend their rights.


Workplace retaliation can take different forms. However, most of them are unjust and biased, meaning they are aimed at benefiting the employer. So, do not work in retribution fear from your employer, mainly when it comes to the rights and privileges you are entitled. Taking quick and decisive action will help you to fight against unfair workplace retaliations.