Workplace retaliation guidance may require policies to be updated

Q&A with Paige Hoster Good

published in The Oklahoman | September 14, 2016

In the 18 years since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last released guidance on workplace retaliation, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed down seven decisions addressing claims of retaliation, and the filing of discrimination charges involving allegations of retaliation has only continued to rise. In 2015 alone, 45 percent of all charges received by the EEOC alleged some sort of retaliation.

In a Q&A with The Oklahoman, labor and employment attorney Paige Hoster Good discussed the agency’s newly released guidance on the topic and what constitutes a legitimate workplace retaliation claim.

“If an aggrieved employee wants to assert a claim of retaliation, they will have to prove three elements: The employee engaged in activity protected by federal law; the employer took materially adverse employment action against the employee; and a causal connection exists between the protected activity and the materially adverse employment action,” said Good.

While the new guidance is not binding law, it does give employers a good look into how the EEOC intends to interpret the law when investigating and pursuing worker claims.

“Oklahoma employers should consider auditing and updating their policies and practices regarding retaliation in light of this recent guidance, in addition to ensuring a well-trained workforce,” said Good. “Managers, supervisors and all employees should understand anti-retaliation policies, how to voice complaints, and how to investigate and handle such complaints.”