EEO Retaliation

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The law prohibits punishing (retaliating—also referred to as “reprisal”) job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination, including harassment. Asserting these Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) rights is called "protected activity," and it can take many forms. For example, it is unlawful to retaliate against applicants or employees for:

  • Filing or being a witness in an EEO complaint, investigation, or lawsuit;
  • Communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination, including harassment; 
  • Answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment;
  • Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination resisting sexual advances; 
  • Intervening to protect others' protected activities; or
  • Requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice;

A manager is not allowed to do anything in response to EEO activity that would discourage a reasonable person from resisting or complaining about future discrimination.  Employees who believe they are victims of retaliation may file a complaint with their respective EEO office.

The attorneys in the ELLU assist managers in addressing employee allegations of retaliation. This includes advising managers on whether taking a disciplinary or other personnel action might result in a retaliation claim from an employee, and defending the Department against EEO complaints of retaliation.


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