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What constitutes workplace retaliation?

As an employee in Minnesota, you have certain rights, and your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you or punish you if you make the decision to exercise these rights. For example, if you witness or experience discrimination or sexual harassment at work and "blow the whistle" about the incident to a supervisor, you are legally protected in your right to do so. Similarly, if you refuse a supervisor's advances or refuse to obey the orders of a superior because you are being asked to do something you know is illegal, you cannot be retaliated against for taking action against them.

Defining workplace retaliation

Workplace retaliation, per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is what happens if your employer or someone else in your place of employment punishes you or treats you unfairly for exercising one of these protected rights. While it is important to note that the circumstances surrounding every retaliation case are different, some signs of workplace retaliation are more overt in nature or easy to prove than others.

Examples of workplace retaliation

For example, you may be subjected to verbal threats because of your actions, which may relate directly to the perceived injustice. The threats may, too, involve something entirely different, such as making threats about contacting authorities about undocumented workers or family members. Another example of workplace retaliation might be if you blow the whistle about something and then find that an existing business relationship your supervisor had with your husband's firm or company is suddenly severed. You may also find yourself subjected to physical abuse at your office or place of employment as part of retaliatory actions.

Less obvious examples of workplace retaliation

In other situations, the methods of retaliation might be less obvious. You might find you are demoted or passed over for a promotion. You may, too, notice that your coworkers receive raises and you do not, or that your coworkers receive larger raises than you for no apparent reason. Other examples might be if you are given a low score during an employee evaluation without due cause, or if you suddenly start getting the least desirable schedule of anyone on your workforce.

Workplace retaliation is not always easy to identify, but any effort made to punish you because you exercised a protected right may be considered retaliation. If you believe you have been a victim of workplace retaliation and want to learn more about what your options are, consider getting in contact with a lawyer.

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