You have a responsibility to not retaliate against employees for engaging in protected activity. In general, this means that you can’t:

  • fire,
  • reject for a job or promotion,
  • give lesser assignments,
  • force to take leave, or
  • otherwise negatively alter the terms and conditions of employment for

an individual because he or she complained about discrimination, whether the alleged discrimination was directed at them or another employee.

Your employees have the right to file a complaint about discrimination, file a Charge of Discrimination, and participate in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit without being retaliated against by you. Punishing applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from discrimination or harassment can violate the law.

You aren’t allowed to retaliate against employees for engaging in protected activity, such as:

  • filing or being a witness in a discrimination complaint, investigation, or lawsuit,
  • communicating with a supervisor about employment discrimination or harassment,
  • answering questions during a discrimination or harassment investigation,
  • refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination,
  • resisting sexual advances or intervening to protect others,
  • requesting accommodations for a disability or religious practice, or
  • asking about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.

You may discipline or fire an employee if there is a non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory reason that would otherwise result in such consequences. However, you aren’t allowed to do anything in response to an equal employment opportunity activity that would discourage someone else from resisting or complaining about discrimination.

Questions? We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your responsibilities as an employer. Many questions about your responsibilities may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors:

For additional assistance, please contact:

  • Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP): 1-800-397-6251 or the OFCCP Help Desk
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): 1-800-669-4000 or
  • Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice: 1-800-255-7688 or
Learn about OFCCP Learn about EEOC Learn about IER