As an employee, you have legal rights that you need to protect. And when you do, you shouldn’t run into any resistance from your employer. However, as you probably know, things don’t always work out this way.

When you speak up and/or file a formal complaint against your employer or a specific individual, it can result in retaliation. This takes on many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Demotion
  • Pay cut
  • Termination
  • Mistreatment by your coworkers
  • Verbal abuse

You get the point. There’s nothing fun about workplace retaliation, and in some cases, it can cause you to rethink your decision to stick with the company.

Retaliation can come about for many reasons, such as:

  • Filing a formal complaint
  • Speaking your mind when you know you’re right
  • Protecting your legal rights as an employee
  • Asking for equal pay
  • Fighting back against discrimination, such as on the basis of race, age, sex or religion

What should you do?

You hope that you’re never a victim of workplace retaliation, but it could happen to even the best employees. While it’s easy to turn the other way and hope things get better, don’t do this. You have to protect yourself.

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Start a journal: In this, record all behavior associated with the retaliation, including day, time, date and type of behavior.
  • File a formal complaint with your HR department: It’s not good enough to know that you’re a victim of workplace retaliation. You need to notify your company, and that starts with filing a complaint with HR. Don’t simply tell your supervisor, as they may not take you seriously and/or attempt to sweep your complaint under the rug.
  • Follow-up: If you don’t get what you’re looking for in a timely manner, follow up with your HR department to see where things stand.

Workplace retaliation can sneak up on you when you least expect it. Should this happen, take a deep breath, learn more about your legal rights and then formulate a strategy for protecting them. This will go a long way in putting your mind at ease and helping you realize that you have a future at your company.