Workers in Michigan need to understand their rights in the workplace. One particular aspect that can be somewhat confusing centers around potential retaliation from employers, alternatively known as adverse actions. A previous post gave an overview of all the three tenets of retaliation including adverse action, covered individuals and protected activity. This post will focus solely on retaliation and adverse actions.
Employers cannot do anything that could be deemed retaliatory to employees if there has been a charge filed. That includes demotion, dismissal, harassment or anything else. Part of retaliation is an adverse action. It is important that an employee understand what an adverse action is before considering whether or not there is a case against the employer. If an employer takes action to stop an employee from expressing opposition to a discriminatory practice or from moving forward in participating in a proceeding, it is considered adverse action.
There are many examples of adverse actions. They include firing an employee, refusing to hire a prospective employee, or denying a promotion. There can be threats made, negative evaluations given, negative references, and an increase in surveillance of the work the employee does. An employer can go so far as to assault or to bring unfounded charges against an employee and these can be seen as a deterrence to speaking out. Employees must bear in mind that small irritants are not included in adverse actions. Negative comments in an evaluation that is predominately positive or neutral, ignoring a colleague, or justified negativity regarding poor performance are all acceptable.
It is illegal to retaliate even if the allegations were from a prior employer. An example is if a current employer holds it against an employee for pursuing a case against a former employer. Adverse actions can be a complicated and confusing aspect of employment law. Workers who have questions or believe they have been subjected to adverse action should speak to an attorney who is experienced in all manner of cases linked to retaliation and wrongful termination.
Source: EEOC.gov, "Facts About Retaliation -- Adverse Action," Accessed on March 1, 2016