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Employer retaliation: Handling workplace harassment and discrimination.

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Speaking out about mistreatment in the workplace could trigger negative reaction from the employer’s management team. Some areas of adverse action can be professional devaluation, giving a negative reference to a potential new employer, social isolation, a demotion, and even forced termination. Retaliation means any adverse action that an individual or management takes against an employee because he or she reported harassment/mistreatment or discrimination by the employer. All managers and Human resource representatives should become familiar with the law of retaliation because revenge can be very costly and are the most commonly filed lawsuits with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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Manager’s can create an environment that they knowingly or unknowingly contribute to their employees’ deviant acts. Deviant behavior from an employee presumes wrongful and inherently negative conduct. Deviant behavior is actions that violate social norms that can take place within the workplace such as an employee becoming unproductive or show aggressive behavior, abuse of property (using company vehicle for personal use or padding the timesheet), or merely company politics (spreading false rumors about his or her coworkers just to get ahead within the department or organization). These actions are seen as voluntary behavior that violates institutionalized norms, which can threaten the wellbeing of the department as well as the entire organization.

Managers and supervisors might act unfairly toward employees who commit deviant acts, which may create a legitimate case of retaliation towards the employee. Abusive managers can trigger workplace deviance. The subordinates’ perception of management’s display of hostile verbal and non-verbal behaviors towards the employee may lead to deviance in the workplace. Human resource professionals can assist with keeping their organization from costly lawsuits by communicating to the employees how and where to report misconduct that is happening within the workplace. Each employee should feel comfortable in reporting any wrongdoing by creating an anti-retaliation policy to make sure employees know their rights. HR professionals can also create or purchase training modules for management to use to ensure that corporate policy prohibits retaliation against employees who report wrongdoing to the HR department.

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