As it relates to the workplace, retaliation occurs when an employer responds negatively or takes direct action toward a person because that person made an official claim of violation or complaint against that employer. Note that you do not have to have been directly filing the complaint; the same retaliation definition goes for persons simply involved or participating in the claim.

The state of Michigan prohibits this kind of behavior from employers and takes these matters quite seriously. In fact, an employee does not have to directly report a violation or make formal charges for the employer to commit retaliation. Relevant employee rights include the right to:

  • Protest the employer’s violations or take part in related public demonstrations
  • File a complaint about violations or potential violations
  • Inform fellow employees of their Title VII rights and other laws
  • Request a meeting with supervisors regarding a violation

A human resources representative or otherwise qualified employment law professional can elaborate on your rights as an employee.

What can employers do to prevent retaliation charges?

Employers and persons of authority within a company can do their part in preventing retaliation. Preventative actions include:

  • Working to maintain confidentiality in the complaints process
  • Understanding the scope of workplace policies and rules
  • Ensure that there is clear, justifiable evidence for an employee’s discharge

Finally, note that there is a burden of proof that lies on the employee in cases of retaliation. The employee and their employment law attorney must prove the employer’s awareness of a report or opposition and that the employer acted negatively toward the employee because of that report.