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How to deal with and prove workplace retaliation

When workers face retaliation in California, reactions vary. Some people may struggle to keep their jobs for as long as possible. Another set of workers may move on and never look back, preferring to forget the incidents that led to the complaint and subsequent retaliation. Others may wish to seek legal recourse but first need to know where to begin.

According to NPR, retaliation claims exceed even racial discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It now makes up 45% of EEOC claims. Retaliation refers to adverse actions against a worker following the filing of a discrimination charge or making a complaint. These actions may include harassing, demoting or firing workers.

One way that workers can safeguard themselves is to document incidents as they arise. This starts with saving the nasty emails. Sometimes text messages or even recorded phone calls on company lines may be involved. Save these too. When instances occur in person, it doesn’t hurt to make a note of what happened and when to make it easier to keep track of events under pressure in a courtroom hearing if it comes to that.

Note that retaliation can take many different forms and often exists in a gray area. If a supervisor stops a worker from receiving a promotion they qualified for before filing their complaint, is that retaliation? It could be. Still, what if the situations related to the complaint had also caused the worker’s focus and work performance to decline?

This is why proving retaliation is so important. Forbes believes that proving retaliation is often easier than other claims filed with the EEOC. This boils down to how courts tend to interpret “materially adverse action.” In the case of retaliation, a worker may only need to prove that the actions taken against them could make a reasonable worker think twice about supporting an existing claim or filing a new one.

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