Retaliation Is The Most Common EEOC / DFEH Complaint

Employers may be surprised to learn that the single most common charge filed against employers with the EEOC and, in California, the DFEH, is retaliation.  The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently released its statistics for 2013, showing that out of approximately 94,087 charges against employers in the USA and its territories, 40.9% included a charge of retaliation.  In California, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s statistics for 2013 show that out of 18,480 charges against employers, a whopping 68.7% included a charge of retaliation.

The reasons for this may have to do with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that broadened the protections for employees.  For retaliation, an employee only needs to show that the retaliation was enough to dissuade him or her from reporting or supporting a charge against the employer — which is a lower standard than that for discrimination.  What’s more, an employer can be liable for failing to stop retaliation by lower level employees.

The same laws that prohibit discrimination and harassment in employment based on certain protected characteristics also prohibit retaliation for complaining about discrimination and harassment.  Employers should review their policies to ensure that the include a prohibition against unlawful retaliation.  In addition, they should train their employees to avoid engaging in retaliatory conduct.  Consistent implementation of solid policies is key to managing risk in today’s workplace.

© Alexandra M. Steinberg 2016 All rights reserved.