Understanding Workplace Retaliation

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When an employer is accused of workplace retaliation, it can deeply affect the morale of a staff and ultimately cost the company significant financial damages and legal fees. Retaliation is also one of the most serious allegations that can be made against an employer. It alleges that employees are not safe from vindictive actions of managers and the company leadership is willing to act on spite.

If you are an employer in Texas, it is critical that you understand what can and cannot be considered retaliation. Below, we look at some of the most common examples.

Termination Or Reassignment

One of the most drastic and easily identifiable forms of retaliation is firing or reassignment. Most employers realize that firing is crossing the line, but fewer realize that reassignment can also be detrimental to an employee. While some employers may assume that the employee wants to move on to another position within the company, that kind of move, when not properly discussed with the employee, could have a negative effect on their lives.


It’s normal for an employer to be wary of including an employee that’s been involved in some administrative or legal/whistle-blower issue in decision making, meetings, communications, even company-related extracurricular and social activities. The truth is, though, that employees are often acutely aware of this kind of exclusion and how it can even encourage poor attitudes among your other workers towards them.

Reduced Opportunity

If an employee in question was up for a raise or promotion and doesn’t get one because a vindictive action by management, this is considered retaliation. However, these claims can sometimes be difficult to legally assert. Sometimes employees overestimate what their chances of getting a promotion in the first place and then attribute not getting one to retaliation. Whatever the case may be, the employer needs to be prepared to show that there were legitimate reasons why an employee was passed up for a promotion or a raise.

Workplace Abuse

Similar to exclusion, workplace abuse is a common claim by employees who believe they’ve been retaliated against. This abuse can manifest in any number of ways– an increasing number of ways, actually, since the Internet, social media, and online workplace chat have become so ubiquitous to office and workplace culture. As an employer, it is your responsibility to let you staff know that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated.

Avoiding actions that could be misconstrued as retaliation can be easy with the proper tools and precautions. Thorough employee handbooks can help, as can the fostering of an open, honest work environment, and providing easy employee access to management should a problem arise.

If you have been accused of retaliation, then the time to speak to counsel is now. At Toppins Law Firm, P.C., our Houston employment lawyer is well-versed in both local laws and the federal laws that govern the workplace. Our client companies can rest assured that their interests will be spoken for and protected until the matter is resolved.

Want to learn more about what our firm can do for you? Contact our offices today.