It is not uncommon for employees to fear speaking out against their employer. Despite the fear, employees do have protection from employment discrimination and retaliation. These protections are federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws. An employer cannot discriminate against you and he or she cannot discipline or fire you for filing a complaint. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC states that there are acts that an employer cannot retaliate against. 

What an employer cannot retaliate against 

Employees have a right to freedom from harassment and discrimination. The federal government protects your ability to assert these rights. Employers cannot retaliate against you if you file a complaint or lawsuit that claims discrimination. Likewise, your employer cannot take action against you for telling a manager about harassment. 

Employers can also perform the following acts without retaliation: 

  • Request disability or religious accommodations 
  • Resist sexual advances or protect others from said advances 
  • Discuss wages with other employees or managers to uncover discriminatory wages 

If you act to oppose discrimination, you have protections in place. 

What an employer cannot do after a complaint 

After you file a complaint, you are not immune to disciplinary action. As long as the employer is not motivated by retaliatory or discriminatory reasons, he or she can still discipline or fire you. The employer has to have a reason that would typically result in that action. 

Employers cannot terminate an employee or demote the employee due to his or her activity in filing an EEO complaint. The law states that the employer cannot spread rumors or engage in any physical or verbal abuse.