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Subtler forms of retaliation

As this blog has discussed on previous occasions, it is illegal for a Denver employer to retaliate against an employee who duly reports a law violation or who participates in a valid official or even intra-office investigation.

Anti-retaliation provisions specifically prohibit employers from punishing employees for filing discrimination claims with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.

Under these provisions, an employer must also not retaliate against an employee for answering questions or acting as a witness in an ensuing investigation, nor may they be punished for declining to follow a workplace rule or order that violates federal laws prohibiting discrimination.

It may seem apparent that retaliation would include firing an employee, demoting the employee or re-assigning the employee's duties in a way designed to harm the employee's career. However, retaliation can also include subtler types of behavior, some of which might at first escape notice or just seem like an annoyance.

For example, employers cannot use an annual performance evaluation as a weapon against an employee who has reported misconduct. An employee should instead expect an evaluation based on objective criteria that apply across the board.

Likewise, employers may not decide to give an employee additional review and supervision, such as in the form of performance audits, just because they have exercised their rights to demand that an employer comply with the law.

One goal here is to prevent an employer from engaging in a fishing expedition in order to get enough dirt on a legally protected employee so as to be able to punish him or her for a seemingly objective reason.

Whether flagrant or more subtle, an employee who thinks he or she may be the victim of retaliation should consider evaluating legal options with an experienced employment law attorney in the Denver area.

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