Workplace Inclusion


You have the responsibility to not retaliate against employees.

You have a responsibility to not retaliate against employees for engaging in protected activity under the federal equal employment opportunity laws. In general, this means that you can’t take adverse actions, such as: 

  • firing,
  • rejecting for a job or promotion,
  • giving lesser assignments,
  • forcing to take leave, or
  • otherwise negatively altering the terms and conditions of employment for an individual because they complained about discrimination (whether the alleged discrimination was directed at them or another employee), or otherwise engaged in protected activity, or taking an action that could dissuade a reasonable employee from raising a concern about a possible violation or engaging in other related protected activity because they 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 in court or with a federal agency, file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC, or 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, or otherwise opposing 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. 


Employees are protected against retaliation regardless of their immigration status. Retaliation based on immigration status can include actions like threats to call immigration authorities, a request for new I-9 employment verification documents or Social Security number information, and employer efforts to call the police and involve immigration authorities. 

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

Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice: 1-800-255-7688 or

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Need more information?

The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under federal employment laws.