Retaliation occurs when your employer does an adverse action, whether directly or through a manager or superior, against you because you performed a protected activity. Protected activities may include reporting misconduct and opposing activities you consider wrong or discriminatory.
Some people imagine retaliation to always involve overt actions, such as firing an employee, skipping them for promotions, or putting them through disciplinary processes. However, some forms of retaliation are more subtle than others and may involve giving you silent treatment and isolating you from your colleagues.
Some employers understand the value of their staff’s relationship with one another, so they take advantage of this to retaliate against an employee. Your employer might threaten your coworkers or tell them to avoid you. They might also spread baseless rumors. As a result, you might notice your coworkers no longer talking to you, or they might stop inviting you to lunch or outside-of-work events.
Your employer might also limit your chances of interacting with your coworkers. They might suddenly change your shift schedule or shorten your work hours. Your employer may also stop inviting you to meetings or exclude you from company gatherings.
Employers often use these tactics to ostracize and isolate employees from the rest of the workforce. When you feel isolated from your coworkers, it might become harder to accomplish more complex tasks. You might also feel demotivated and become more likely to quit your job.
The law protects employees from both overt and subtle forms of retaliation. If you believe your employer is retaliating against you, it generally helps to consult a lawyer. An attorney can help confirm whether your employer’s actions constitute retaliation, and they can help you build a case that protects your rights.