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Preventing Retaliation Best Practices

Many of the recommendations here are drawn from the EEOC Commission Task Force Report entitled Best Practices for Public Sector Employers. This report presents a broad overview of the practices through which corporate America has been addressing its obligations to equal employment opportunity and workplace diversity. Although this report was issued in 1997, many of the insights it contains are still applicable today.

  • Employers should maintain a written, plain-language anti-retaliation policy, and provide practical guidance on the employer's expectations with user-friendly examples of what to do and not to do.
  • Employers should consider training all managers, supervisors, and employees on the employer's written anti-retaliation policy, and sending a message from top management that retaliation will not be tolerated.
  • Managers and supervisors alleged to have engaged in discrimination should be provided with guidance on how to handle any personal feelings about the allegations when carrying out management duties or interacting in the workplace.
  • Employers may also wish to check in with employees, managers, and witnesses during the pendency of a complaint or charge to inquire if there are any concerns regarding potential or perceived retaliation. This may help spot issues before they fester, and to reassure employees and witnesses of the employer's commitment to protect against retaliation.
  • Employers may choose to require decision-makers to identify their reasons for taking consequential actions and ensure that necessary documentation supports the decision. Employers may examine performance assessments to ensure they have a sound factual basis and are free from unlawful motivations and emphasize consistency to managers.

Tips for treating employees consistently and avoiding retaliation

Ensuring that you treat employees consistently, or that you can justify any inconsistent treatment, may help you prevent retaliation.

Before making an employment decision that may negatively affect an employee who reported discrimination, assisted with a discrimination investigation or lawsuit, or opposed discrimination, the EEOC encourages you to ask yourself:

  • Am I holding this employee to stricter performance or behavioral standards now than I did before they filed a discrimination complaint, assisted with a discrimination investigation or lawsuit, or opposed discrimination?
  • Am I treating this employee differently than I have treated other employees who have broken similar rules?
  • Am I treating this employee differently than I have treated other employees with similar skills, abilities, or accomplishments?
  • If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," or if your decision is not consistent with your past behavior or with your employee policies, determine whether you can justify the decision to treat the employee differently.

Additional resources for best practice ideas for preventing retaliation and discrimination

Here are additional resources about preventing discrimination in specific actions or based on specific protected categories: