I cannot say this enough to employers: Punishing an employee who participates in an EEOC charge will only multiple your problems.Michael Baldonado, EEOC San Francisco District Director
Employer retaliation can lead to government fines, criminal charges, and employee lawsuits. Whistleblowing includes reporting unacceptable labor and employment practices to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
A good example occurred at the Fisher Nut Company. Supervisors at the company retaliated against seven workers who attended an informal meeting to discuss workplace discrimination. After the meeting, supervisors began a campaign against the workers. The workers who attended the meeting experienced:
- Verbal threats
- Demotions to entry-level positions.
- Discipline for exaggerated issues (including laughing at work)
It is significant to note that the retaliation came from supervisors rather than from the board or higher management. The unethical actions of line supervisors may expose a company to legal consequences, even if those actions were unauthorized.
The workers reported the retaliation to the EEOC. Retaliation for reports of employment discrimination is a violation of federal anti-discrimination law, and the EEOC sued Fisher Nut to enforce the law. Fisher Nut settled with the workers for $150,000. In addition, Fisher Nut agreed to train its workforce, issue an anti-discrimination policy, and permit the EEOC to monitor the company for a full year.