Federal law and the Montana Human Rights Act prohibit punishing job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination including retaliation for reporting discriminatory conduct.
Asserting these rights is called "protected activity," and it can take many forms. For example, it is unlawful to retaliate against applicants or employees for:
- filing or being a witness in an EEO charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit
- communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination, including harassment
- answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment
- refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
- resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others
- requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice
- asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.
Participating in a complaint process is protected from retaliation under all circumstances. Other acts to oppose discrimination are protected as long as the employee was acting on a reasonable belief that something in the workplace may violate the law, even if he or she did not use legal terminology to describe it.
For example, depending on the facts, it could be retaliation if an employer acts because of the employee's EEO activity to:
- reprimand the employee or give a performance evaluation that is lower than it should be;
- transfer the employee to a less desirable position;
- engage in verbal or physical abuse;
- threaten to make, or actually make reports to authorities (such as reporting immigration status or contacting the police);
- increase scrutiny;
- spread false rumors, treat a family member negatively (for example, cancel a contract with the person's spouse); or
- make the person's work more difficult (for example, punishing an employee for a complaint by purposefully changing his work schedule to conflict with family responsibilities).
For more information on what might constitute retaliation, as well as what legal rights you have, please read our blog articles and contact us directly. We can help you further understand how important it is to fight the horrible illegalities of discrimination, as well as determine what your legal rights are.