Taking an adverse employment action against an employee for complaining of discrimination or filing a complaint or charge of discrimination is retaliation under all of the anti-discrimination laws. So is taking an adverse employment action against a non-complaining employee who refuses to be complicit in a discriminatory act.
An EEOC attorney recently said, “Retaliation charges continue to be among the most common kind received by the EEOC. They pose a continuing challenge for us — and one we are absolutely determined to meet.” Indeed, the EEOC recently filed a case accusing the Georgia Council for the Hearing-Impaired of retaliating against an employee after he filed an EEOC discrimination charge.
All anti-discrimination statutes contain retaliation provisions which protect employees who do anything in furtherance of the aims of the statutes – which is preventing discrimination. This includes filing a complaint, as well as opposing discriminatory practices. This latter situation was nicely illustrated in a new case filed by the EEOC against a Minnesota metal services company for retaliating against an employee who was demoted for refusing her boss’s racist-infused order to carry out the firing of an African-American Employee. After she filed a charge with the EEOC she was fired.
The EEOC said that “Federal law protects individuals who oppose on-the-job practices they reasonably believe are unlawful as well as those who file charges with EEOC. Challenging retaliatory discharges helps to make sure the system which the law provides for dealing with discrimination not only survives but actually works.”
It takes a fairly obtuse employer not to understand that racism in the workplace is illegal, which is compounded by firing an employee for opposing this.