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Retaliating against an individual who’s put forward a claim of harassment or discrimination is both illegal and unethical. Retaliation is defined as an adverse action taken against an employee because he/she complained of harassment or discrimination. Adverse action includes demotion, discipline, termination, salary reduction, negative performance appraisal, and change in job duties or shift assignment. Examples of retaliation might be:

  • Giving the employee fewer hours, less desirable assignments, or worse working conditions
  • Not speaking to the employee, refusing to conduct regular professional business matters
  • Not giving the employee want he or she needs to do the job: refusing purchasing requests, not inviting the employee to meetings
  • Calling the employee a whistleblower, troublemaker, pain, or problem
  • Transferring an employee
  • Firing the employee

When an employee complaints of sexual harassment, or other forms of harassment to you, or to others in the company or to a government agency, you must not take any action that the employee may view as punishment or retaliation for filing the complaint.

As a manager (or as an employee), if you see employees retaliating against someone because of a harassment or discrimination issue, you need to act appropriately. Supervisors and companies that do not act can be liable for criminal and civil penalties. Follow your company’s written policies to discipline the retaliators and make sure the behavior ceases.