woman stressed about workplace retaliation

Identifying Retaliation in the Workplace

By Pasha Vaziri
Attorney At Law

It’s only natural to want to get even or get back at someone when you feel you have been wronged. Controlling that impulse when it is inappropriate to act on it is an important part of being a good leader — especially in the employment context. 

Routinely seeking revenge is not a good way to build a positive company culture, and depending on the circumstances, it may be illegal. Illinois and federal law prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who seek to enforce their workplace rights.

Our experienced team of employment law practitioners regularly assist Chicago area employees whose employers have retaliated against them. 

What is Retaliation? 

If you attempt to assert your workplace rights and your employer then takes action against you, it may be retaliation. Some common examples of retaliation include: 

  • Being fired, or seeing your hours reduced  
  • Reprimands or performance evaluations that do not reflect your work 
  • Changes to job titles
  • Removing supervisory responsibilities 
  • Increased supervision or micromanagement 
  • Making work more difficult or unpleasant
  • Transfers to less prestigious or desirable work or work locations.
  • Verbal or physical abuse
  • Threatening to report you or your family to the authorities, or actually doing so
  • Spreading false rumors about you

This is by no means a complete list of retaliatory behavior, just a list of common examples. Employers are endlessly creative when it comes to thinking of ways to mistreat their employees, and often try to downplay what happened if they are called out on it. If you believe you have been retaliated against, you should share your story with an experienced employment law attorney like Pasha Vaziri who can advise you of your rights. 

Not All Negative Work Experiences Are Retaliation

Employers can treat their employees pretty badly without ever doing anything illegal. They can work you to the bone, cut your hours, lower your pay, and generally disrespect you, and there is often nothing you can do about it. 

Poor treatment alone is typically not considered discrimination in and of itself. It only crosses the line and becomes retaliation if you can link an action taken against you to an attempt to assert your workplace rights. It is the fact that you were treated badly because you engaged in a protected activity that turns poor treatment into retaliation. 

How Common is Retaliation? 

Just because retaliation is illegal does not mean that employers refrain from doing it. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation is the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination at the federal level. 

Vaziri Law LLC has represented many Chicago area employees in workplace retaliation lawsuits over the years.

Fueled by Passion. Built on Trust. 

If you believe you are being retaliated against for trying to enforce your workplace rights, Vaziri Law LLC is ready to hear your side of the story. Vaziri Law LLC is a full-service employment law firm you can trust to put your best interests at heart. Please contact us today to schedule a meeting.

About the Author
Attorney Pasha Vaziri received his Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and focuses on personal injury and insurance law cases for clients in the Chicago area. Pasha founded Vaziri Law LLC in 2014 with a focus on the following practice areas: business litigation, class and collective actions, employment litigation, and injury litigation. As an attorney, he strives to achieve your objectives as efficiently as possible. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Mr. Vaziri through our contact page.