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Retaliation in Alaska

One employee has made several discrimination complaints with the EEOC and Human Resources, which have been found to have no merit. Can I fire her for being a troublemaker, in


No, you must not. Firing a worker under a trumped-up excuse for the purposes of retaliation, if that worker has made complaints to your Human Resources department or to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), is clearly against the law, in Alaska and other states.

It is illegal even if the original complaints were not legitimate. The protection stems from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII. It applies to discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, or country of origin. It also applies to retaliation against the workers who file good-faith discrimination complaints.

Remember that there are companies that discriminate against employees, and if employees who complained about this could be fired at the whim of the employer, then discrimination would have the upper hand, because no employees would complain.

On another level, retaliation against workers who managers consider to be troublemakers can become expensive as well. Consider an important case in Illinois.

There, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, determined that a company called Woodward Governor, with headquarters in Fort Collins, Colorado, was discriminating against employees at plants in Rockton and Rockford, Illinois.

The discrimination was against women, African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics.

The first lawsuit in 2003 applied to racial discrimination, and was based on a 2002 complaint. The second, for sex discrimination, was added in 2006.

The cases were settled recently, and cost the company $5 million. The employees who complained remained on their jobs. If Woodward Governor had retaliated and fired them, the costs to the company could have been far greater, which means that retaliation can come at a high price to the company or management which engages in it.

There are all kinds of ways employers may retaliate. They include changing working conditions, changing pay, or demoting a worker. They may include changing job duties. The employer may encourage other workers not to talk to the complainant, or to shun her in other ways. Retaliation may be done through failure to promote or failure to give a raise, if that promotion or raise is merited. If it is retaliation, however, it is illegal.

While Title VII covers employees who make good-faith complaints, it also covers all kinds of discrimination, including those based on race, religion, sex, color, or country of origin.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 14th, 2007 at 2:46 pm and is filed under
Hiring and Staffing, Human Resources Management, Labor Laws, Management / Leadership Development, Performance Management, Termination.
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