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Employers have a duty to protect workers from retaliation

Discrimination in the workplace can create an environment of hostility and mistrust. When managers or supervisors mistreat employees in protected classes, such as race or gender, they are violating laws that protect such groups of people. Co-workers often notice when a boss behaves this way, and they may report such mistreatment to those in authority over the supervisor. The problems are compounded if the supervisor launches a campaign of retaliation against the whistleblower.

California employers have an obligation to investigate and confront any allegations of discrimination. Further, an employer would do well to take any action necessary to ensure such discriminatory practices cease and no retaliation takes place. Retaliation can be difficult to spot since a supervisor may keep such behavior subtle and private. Because of this, following up with employees and supervisors is a good habit, and keeping an open channel of communication will make employees more likely to report further discrimination or retaliation.

One way in which a supervisor may discriminate or retaliate is through scheduling. For example, a supervisor may give the least desirable shifts to employees of color or deny their requests for days off or schedule accommodations. If one employee reports this behavior, and the supervisor faces subsequent discipline, the supervisor may retaliate by continuing to assign the worst shifts or duties to the one who made the report. In such cases, an employer may find no other resolution but to terminate the supervisor.

Facing discrimination at work can be confusing and demoralizing. Additionally, after doing the right thing and reporting such illegal actions, an employee may become the victim of even harsher behaviors. No employee should have to bear such wrongs. In fact, those in California who feel they are victims of workplace discrimination or retaliation have every right to seek the advocacy of an attorney.

Source:, "Managers Who Retaliate Can Lose Their Jobs", Susan M. Heathfield, Accessed on Aug. 18, 2017

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