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The Most Frequent Complaint With The EEOC? Retaliation

Retaliation now is the most frequently filed charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retaliation often occurs when another employee, usually a supervisor, feels wronged and decides to punish an accuser or “get even” in response to a claim. Management may also attempt to discourage an employee from filing a claim.

To get a better idea of the problem, consider a report on retaliation claims involving federal employees. According to a report issued by the EEOC, between 2009 and 2013, federal workers filed between 15,226 to 17,583 complaints each year. At least 44 percent of these complaints alleged that management had retaliated against these employees after they had filed a different type of claim that may or may not have been substantiated. 

Claims based upon retaliation were more numerous than any other type of discriminatory claims made by federal employees. Investigators substantiated between 34 percent and 53 percent of the retaliatory claims filed in the years between 2009 and 2013. This is an alarming trend.

Managers may not demote or fire an employee without appropriate documentation. Harassment may not occur under any circumstance. Retaliation may even happen years after the original claim because a supervisor is vengeful or carries a grudge. 

Overall, the number of retaliation claims has nearly tripled since 1997. Certain workplace environments may contribute to a culture of retaliation. Examples include:

  • Places where there is a lack (or lack of awareness) of policies against retaliation
  • Hierarchical work environments where one’s status or rank is a sign of pride
  • Locations with authoritarian supervisors
  • Units where "rewards" are handed out competitively or arbitrarily
  • Physical environments where the accused can isolate the accuser from others

If you are an employee who feels that your supervisor is retaliating against you, consult with an attorney experienced in retaliation cases.

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