Putting Title I Retaliation Fears to Bed

Submitted by Chris Murphy on Thu, 03/07/2019 - 00:00

“It is illegal to retaliate against a person because he or she complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.”

-Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices, EEOC, https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/practices/index.cfm

 

This information needs to be understood and shared as much as is possible. From time to time I get the opportunity to attend expositions to represent the RMADAC at a booth and speak to attendees in person, one-on-one. The vast majority of the anecdotes I have heard from people do not have to do with facility access, state and local government, or access to public accommodations. The subject that comes up the most in my interactions with people are employment issues. Simply put, a lot of people just don’t know they have employments rights under the ADA.

I don’t want to dive too deep into explaining employments rights under the ADA in this post. We have several resources available that take a very in-depth approach to explaining Title I of the ADA. I'd like to emphasize that fear of retaliation by an employer should not stop anyone who is experiencing discrimination in the workplace from standing up for themselves. An employer who threatens negative consequences because an employee defends their civil rights is just as guilty of discrimination as the original violation. Examples of retaliation include: demotion, reassigned to less favorable job conditions (night shift, fewer hours, etc.), termination, or threatening that anything could happen if/when an EEOC complaint is filed. That is straight-up illegal. If that does happen, employees should document those actions as much as possible to build a case for themselves.

People who experience employment discrimination first hand aren’t the only ones who should be aware of this aspect of employment law. Everyone should be aware of this information. The last part of the statement I quoted at the beginning of this post speaks to retaliation against those who "participate in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit." This means employees who witness discrimination should not be afraid of being punished to support the claims of a person experiencing legitimate discrimination in the workplace.

This aspect of the many stories I’ve heard from people is disappointingly common. This is what inspired the topic for this posting. This is what I want everyone to understand. We should not be afraid to stand up for our rights to equal opportunity and we should not be afraid to speak up when necessary to support each other. The type of mindset that is responsible for discrimination in the workplace is toxic and won’t be limited to just certain people. It will eventually spread to anyone that has to interact with it, so you might as well speak out against it if given the opportunity. It should be noted that this prohibition does not strictly apply to disability-discrimination, but to discrimination of all kinds. We are all in this together.