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Retaliation Leads the Way in Workplace Discrimination (01/31/12) Joan S. Farrell

Over the past few years, more laws prohibiting retaliation in the workplace have been added to the books at both the state and local level. In addition, decisions by courts and regulatory agencies have broadened the scope of existing laws. Federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act prohibit retaliation by employers when a worker complains about workplace discrimination or engages in a “protected activity” like being a witness in an investigation or filing a workplace discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Several other laws (whistleblower laws, state workers’ compensation laws, and laws governing jury service, for example) contain retaliatory prohibitions as well.

To avoid retaliation claims companies should have a written policy prohibiting retaliation; train supervisors and managers about what constitutes retaliation and how to avoid it; refrain from firing workers out of anger; and apply policies and practices consistently.