Top 8 Signs of Retaliation in the Workplace

In the 2020 fiscal year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received more than 65,000 workplace discrimination charges, and over 55% of these were retaliation charges.

At your place of employment, you should feel respected and safe at all times. Although both state and federal law ensure that your rights are protected, workplace retaliation has, unfortunately, become a common issue for employees.

Some workers don’t even know that they are a victim of retaliation in the workplace and they fail to take the necessary measures to correct it.

In this post, we’ll cover the top signs that indicate that you are a victim of workplace retaliation. Moreover, we have listed the steps you should take to stand against retaliation and get the justice you deserve.

What Is Workplace Retaliation?

Retaliation in the workplace is considered to be any punitive or negative employment decision made in response to an employee’s legally protected activity. In other words, workplace retaliation is when an employer or a superior with authority exerts their power over a worker with the intent of negatively impacting the worker’s professional advancement due to the worker asserting their rights.

Workplace retaliation can be subtle or blatant, and therefore, it is indispensable to take the right actions against it.

As per EEOC, retaliation in the workplace is unlawful conduct and is strictly prohibited in every state, including California.

When Is Retaliation Prohibited?

Sometimes it’s clear that an employer’s action is negative – such as firing an employee or changing their shifts for no reason. However, sometimes, these actions might not be cases of workplace retaliation.

If the employer is able to explain the reason behind the change in the employee’s work life, it may not be considered workplace retaliation. On the other hand, if the employer fails to explain the reason behind the adverse action, it can be considered retaliation in the workplace.

It’s imperative to file a complaint with the EEOC regarding retaliation in the workplace if you or anyone else you know is a victim of the adverse action.

Speak to a Los Angeles retaliation lawyer from Hershey Law at (310)-929-2190 to get help filing a complaint and seeking fair compensation for any suffering you’ve been through due to workplace retaliation.

Common Activities that May Incite Workplace Retaliation

Retaliation in the workplace can happen for a number of reasons, but no matter what the cause, the law considers it illegal. Here are some common situations that might cause an employee to face retaliation by their employer:

  • Taking or requesting leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Complaining to the employer, HR department, or EEOC regarding workplace discrimination (read about 12 types of workplace discrimination).
  • Refusing to commit illegal acts despite the employer’s or another higher authority’s direction or request to do so.
  • Filing for worker’s compensation benefits.
  • Whistleblowing against the employer because they indulged in unlawful activity.

8 Signs of Retaliation in the Workplace

Employers are not allowed to retaliate against their workers who assert their workplace rights. However, many employers engage in retaliation if they disagree with the workers or don’t like something the employees have done.

The most common signs of retaliation in the workplace include unexplained demotion and firing.

Below we’ve listed some signs of workplace retaliation. If you feel like any of these is happening or has happened to you, it’s time to raise your voice against it.

  1. Silent Treatment or Being Left Out

Unfortunately, the silent treatment doesn’t end after high school; it may continue at your workplace as well. You should be suspicious if your supervisor, employer, or colleagues suddenly start ignoring you after you have filed a complaint against them.

Silent treatment or isolation might be a subtle sign of workplace retaliation. It could be due to your supervisor badmouthing you or something else intentionally done to squeeze you out of the organization.

There are several forms of the silent treatment. For example, if a worker files a charge of sexual harassment against the employer, and then soon after:

  • The management leaves the affected worker out of meetings they used to attend.
  • The co-workers who used to have lunch with the victim don’t invite them anymore due to a fear of getting fired.
  1. You’re Reassigned to a Different Department or Shift

Another clear sign of workplace retaliation could be shifting an employee to a new department after they have complained about their supervisor or employer to EEOC or other authorities.

For instance, maybe previously you were working for the technical team, but after filing a harassment complaint, you were shifted to reception. If something similar has happened, it indicates retaliation and discrimination in the workplace.

Besides getting a change in the department, you may also get the worst shift after the complaint. Alternately, it can be considered workplace retaliation if all other employees get a shift change occasionally, but you don’t.

  1. Reduced Working Hours or Employee Benefits

An employer or supervisor might retaliate against you by reducing your working hours. This usually means less pay and losing out on other employment benefits.

Suppose an employee works in a restaurant for an average of 35 hours a week. But right after they filed a claim for employee benefits, their work hours get reduced to 25 hours or even less. The change could be workplace retaliation.

You should be suspicious about retaliation in the workplace if your co-workers are getting the same working hours, but you are not.

A Los Angeles retaliation lawyer is the best person to consult if you are a victim of workplace retaliation. The lawyer will be able to advise you of the best course of action to take in order to receive justice.

  1. Excessive and Unexplained Negative Performance Review

A performance review can make or break an employee’s career at a company and have a significant impact on their work life. Employees may experience excessively negative performance reviews for filing a complaint about harassment or sexual discrimination in the workplace.

However, a negative review is not always a result of workplace retaliation. It’s advised to talk to a lawyer to look at the totality of the circumstances. The lawyer will evaluate the circumstances to help you understand whether you have a case of workplace retaliation against the employer.

  1. Too Much Micromanagement

Every boss has different management styles. Some people prefer a hands-off approach, while others find micromanaging a better fit. Micromanagement by itself isn’t retaliation, even if you don’t like it.

Conversely, you should suspect workplace retaliation if the micromanagement becomes excessive after you have recently filed a workplace complaint.

If you think that your supervisor has started micromanaging you in response to your complaint, it could be a sign of retaliation in the workplace. It can be a complex situation, so speak to a Los Angeles employment attorney to learn if the acts towards you are retaliation or just regular employment practices.

  1. You Are a Victim of Bullying or Harassment

Bullying and harassment in the workplace aren’t exactly rare occurrences. However, if the bullying or harassment is a result of your complaint against an employer, a supervisor, or a fellow employee, it may be workplace retaliation.

An example of workplace retaliation due to bullying or harassment is if you file a workplace discrimination complaint against a well-liked manager and other people in the company start making rumors that you have filed a false complaint to get attention.

You might also experience intimidation tactics, such as the manager (the offender) informing you that if you proceed with the complaint, you may get fired or your job role will be changed. Receiving intimidating texts, emails, and other forms of communication from the offender or their supporters trying to convince you to drop your complaint will also classify as retaliation in the workplace.

  1. You’re Passed Over a Raise or Promotion

You’ve done a great job at work and all the senior associates are happy with your performance. They even promised you a promotion. Suddenly it gets denied after you file a complaint against the employer.

This happens quite often to many employees and is a sign of workplace retaliation. Besides a denied promotion or a raise, a worker may also encounter other negative consequences because of filing a complaint or whistleblowing against something illegal that happened at the workplace.

  1. You’re Fired from the Job

This one does not need an explanation. If you file a complaint against your employer for doing something unlawful or otherwise wrong and in return, they fire you, it is a sign of workplace retaliation.

One of the most severe retaliation tactics is terminating your employment just because you raised your voice against illegal conduct or bad practices.


Termination of employment is not always a result of workplace retaliation. If you think you are a victim of wrongful termination and want to take action, Hershey Law can help.

We are a team of experienced workplace retaliation lawyers in LA and Orange County. Call us at  (310)-929-2190 to discuss your case with a proven team. 

How Do You Know If You Are a Victim of Workplace Retaliation?

Sometimes, it can be challenging to tell whether your employer or supervisor is retaliating against you. Suppose your boss is more standoffish with you after you’ve complained about them. It might not be retaliation, but instead an attempt to be more professional towards you. Only changes that can have adverse effects on your employment are considered retaliatory.

If something clearly negative – such as unexpected poor performance reviews, demotion, or termination – happens after you make a complaint, you are a victim of workplace retaliation. But every retaliatory action against you doesn’t mean your job is under threat. If an employee doesn’t receive the perks they deserve or is not given the same opportunities as other employees, the law will treat it as workplace retaliation.

Retaliation in the workplace is illegal, irrespective of its type and form.

What to Do If You Suspect Workplace Retaliation?

It’s crucial to take immediate action against the retaliator. First, you should talk to your human resources (HR) representative or supervisor regarding the negative acts. Your employer may have a perfectly reasonable explanation of why your work hours have been reduced or your shift has been changed.

If your employer fails to give you a legitimate explanation, you can voice your concern by taking the issue to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Build a Case of Retaliation with the Help of an Employment Attorney

If the retaliation does not stop even after you have exposed it to human resources and your supervisors, the law permits you to file a case against it. With the help of a Los Angeles retaliation attorney, you can establish a link between your complaint and the negative acts or adverse employment action you are encountering or have encountered.

A retaliation lawyer will evaluate the possibilities of filing a case and can help you build a case against the offender(s).

Tips to Strengthen Your Workplace Retaliation Case

If you believe you have been a victim of workplace retaliation or you have encountered any of the aforementioned signs, it’s important to gather proof of the situation. It is also essential that you have credible evidence that will help you prove the retaliation claims you’ve made.

Follow these tips to gather evidence for a solid workplace retaliation argument:

➟ Record How You Reported Retaliation to the Answerable Authorities

It is critical to notify the right authorities, such as the human resources department, about workplace retaliation before seeking an attorney to file a lawsuit. The first piece of evidence that you’ll need is an actual reporting of the unlawful retaliation.

No matter to whom you report the workplace retaliation, you need to gather proof, such as a response from the HR department that they have received your complaint.

➟ Prove that the Employer Is Aware

By reporting workplace retaliation to HR or other authorities, you have notified your employer that you are a victim of retaliation. Try to pin it down so that the person who’s taking negative action against you knows that you have notified the proper authorities about the unlawful activity.

If you reported a complaint anonymously, you must prove that the person you have filed a complaint against somehow found out about you and is now retaliating against you.

➟ Keep a Paper Trail

Retaliation in the workplace can have severe outcomes, like getting fired. In this case, you won’t have access to the company computers or your work email account.

It is essential to keep a paper trail that you can use as evidence to prove the workplace retaliation claim. You can save the evidence in the form of emails, calendars, meeting notes, memos, and so on.


California law does not allow you to record anyone without their consent. You can only record conversations if the other party knows about them. 

Defend Your Employment Rights with Hershey Law Firm

If you experience unexplained exclusion, pay cuts, termination, reassignment, or advancement blocking because you complained about illegal activity or discrimination in the workplace, you can file a charge against your employer for retaliation.

At Hershey Law, we understand that it’s not easy to deal with the repercussions of retaliation in your workplace, and you shouldn’t have to either.

Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced retaliation lawyer from our law office. Our team will guide you through the legal process by evaluating your circumstances, helping you file a complaint, gathering evidence and building a case, and fighting for you in negotiations or at trial.

We value a strong attorney-client relationship and our attorneys will use their best practices to help you get justice!