November 17, 2021
EEOC Updates Guidance on Workplace Retaliation & Interference
On November 10th, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a joint effort with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to “raise awareness about retaliation issues when workers exercise their protected labor rights.”
Towards that end, on November 17th, the EEOC published a new Section M in its “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and…EEO Laws.” The information is not new, but does provide some reminders.
- Most of the laws that protect employees from retaliation also apply to and protect job applicants and former employees.
- To be unlawful, the retaliatory act does not have to take place at work. It could occur outside of work. In one case, an employee claimed retaliation because her boss refused to let her stay in a carpool with him (after she claimed he sexually harassed her).
- To be unlawful, the retaliatory act does not have to have a tangible effect on work or any condition of employment. The mere threat of taking an adverse employment action, such as not hiring an applicant or firing an employee, could suffice.
Until then, include information in your management training programs about how they can: (1) avoid even the appearance of retaliation; and (2) not interfere with employees’ exercising their legal rights.