Taking a stand against wrongs in the workplace is often difficult, especially when the possibility of retaliation exists.
But how can a person even tell if they are facing retaliation? What are the red flags to keep an eye out for?
Retaliation versus at-will employment
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission breaks down facts surrounding retaliatory behavior in workplace environments.
First, note that for many people, it is difficult to distinguish between retaliatory behavior and an employer exercising their right to an at-will business. At-will employment means the employer can technically fire anyone at any time for little to no reason. However, this does not apply in every situation.
Because it is easy to take an employer to court over unfair dismissal, many employers will instead turn to more underhanded methods in an attempt to retaliate against a worker or even get them to quit of their own accord.
Potential retaliatory tactics
For example, they may start by demoting the worker, giving them the least desirable jobs, reducing their wages or refusing them promotions or pay increases.
The general social environment can become toxic, too. Many employees who suffered from retaliatory actions stated that they also felt more unwelcome in the company as a whole. This included feeling iced out by fellow employees, who may want to make a good impression on the higher-ups by showing their allegiance.
Of course, retaliatory behavior in these situations is illegal, and it is possible to take the perpetrator to court. Though it is not possible in every situation or even advisable in some, it is one option.