There is any number of things that can result in a colleague or employer to commit workplace retaliation. Regardless of the reason, there is no acceptable excuse for it—the line of what constitutes retaliation and what does not can be hard to see.

In South Carolina, a company paid more than $300,000 to settle a lawsuit for a sexual harassment report and the resulting retaliation. Workplace retaliation can take place in many forms. Knowing what workplace revenge can look like is the first step in filing a claim for it.

The forms of retaliation

Workplace retaliation is the unjust punishment of an employee for committing a legally defended activity. Common examples of these punishments include:

  • Discipline: an employer can punish an employee by making them take on additional tasks, work inconvenient shifts, or denying workplace requests like a vacation or shift changes.
  • Wrongful termination: when an employer fires an employee to get back at them for something, the law considers it a wrongful termination.
  • Demotion or reassignment: moving an employee to another position that is worse or less convenient than the original post can be retaliation.
  • Salary reduction: whether the employer is unjustly cutting hours, or reducing an employee’s wages, neither is an acceptable response as retaliation.

These methods of retaliation are straightforward in their punishment, but other methods are harder to recognize. Acts like workplace harassment are tough to spot when it occurs solely through verbal statements.

Knowing the signs and holding retaliators accountable

Proving that an employee is the subject of workplace retaliation is challenging. Retaliators can try to hide behind excuses like ignorance or that the actions were necessary for the workplace. An attorney can speak with an employee about their situation to determine if they are the subject of workplace retaliation.