HR Alert

Federal Agencies Release Fact Sheet on Employer Retaliation

Retaliation Prohibited Under FLSA, OSH Act, and Federal Nondiscrimination Laws

The U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL) and Justice, along with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), have released a fact sheet clarifying that retaliation against workers who assert their workplace rights is unlawful, regardless of the workers' immigration status. Important details of the fact sheet are summarized below.

Retaliation Provisions Under FLSA

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), enforced by the DOL, establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector. Under the FLSA, it is unlawful for an employer to terminate or in any other manner discriminate against workers in retaliation for asserting minimum wage or overtime claims (which can include pay issues such as deductions or tips) or cooperating with an FLSA investigation. These protections apply regardless of immigration status. For example, it would be unlawful for an employer to report an undocumented worker to immigration authorities in retaliation for filing a wage claim.

Retaliation Provisions Under OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the DOL enforces workplace safety, health standards and regulations, and other worker rights under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act. The OSH Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the OSH Act, which include filing an OSHA complaint, participating in an inspection or talking to an inspector, seeking access to employer exposure and injury records, reporting an injury, and raising a safety or health complaint with the employer.

Retaliation Provisions Under Federal Nondiscrimination Laws

The EEOC enforces laws prohibiting employment discrimination by employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. All of these EEOC-enforced laws make it illegal to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise retaliate against people (applicants, employees, or former employees) because they filed charges of discrimination with the EEOC, because they complained to their employers about discrimination on the job, or because they participated in employment discrimination proceedings (such as an investigation or lawsuit).

Click here to read the fact sheet, which covers anti-retaliation provisions under additional federal laws.


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