When you ask for your basic rights as a worker, stand up to discrimination or report illegal activity at your company, you should not face punishment for doing what’s right. Federal law prohibits retaliation against workers for reporting wrongdoing or asserting their civil rights.
Unfortunately, many companies will still try to punish those who stand up for themselves or fight back against toxic company culture. The most obvious form of retaliation involves blatantly firing someone. However, there are other, more subtle behaviors that could also be warning signs of retaliation.
Your shift or department suddenly changes
If you work as a server and suddenly only get shifts that start after lunch but and before dinner, you aren’t going to make the kinds of tips you would make during the lunch rush on a weekday or the dinner hour over the weekend.
Companies don’t have to fire you or necessarily cut your hours to punish you. They can transfer you to another department or otherwise change your job as a way to get back at you for making a report.
Your upward trajectory with the company suddenly stalls
Perhaps you get to keep the same position and pay, but the attitude of management about you shifts subtly. Now you are no longer a rising star but rather a troublemaker.
Instead of receiving accommodations, training and other resources when you ask for them, you might find such requests denied and management suddenly unhappy with your performance. If the company no longer seems interested in helping you move up, that change could be a result of you speaking out.
Everyone on your team is suddenly hostile to you
When you report discrimination, harassment or illegal activity, the company should not punish you for doing so. Sometimes, companies get around this by leaking details about the complaint to the rest of the staff. It can be very hard to continue succeeding at your job if everyone in your department is angry with you or wants you to quit.
If your employer has started treating you differently, reading your performance differently or pushing you out of your position, you may need to learn more about retaliation and how to fight back against it.