Last week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new updated guidance on laws that prohibit retaliation against workers who engage in protected activities such as opposing unlawful discrimination or participating in a discrimination investigation. The EEOC issued its previous guidance in 1998 and since that time the U.S. Supreme Court has decided seven cases in which the court addressed the anti-retaliation laws that the EEOC enforces. So, an update of the guidance was certainly warranted.
“Retaliation is asserted in nearly 45 percent of all charges we receive and is the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. “The examples and promising practices included in the guidance are aimed at assisting all employers reduce the likelihood of retaliation. The public input provided during the development of this guidance was valuable to the Commission in producing a document to help employers prevent retaliation and to help employees understand their rights.”
The new guidance contains many helpful illustrative examples of protected activities. Of course, there are many types of protected activities not illustrated but the EEOC’s guidance cover some common types. Some examples of protected activity covered in the guidance include: telling your employer that you witnessed acts of sexual harassment that a co-worker complained about; resisting sexual advances; refusing to comply with your employer’s instruction to engage in unlawful discrimination; and raising questions about potential pay discrimination. Because these activities are protected, an employer may not retaliate against you for doing them.