Friday, May 22, 2009

Protected Activity and Opposition to Discrimination

An employer may not fire, demote, harass or otherwise "retaliate" against an individual for filing a charge of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination. The same laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability, as well as wage differences between men and women performing substantially equal work, also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding.

What is a protected activity?

Protected activities includes:

Opposition to a practice believed to be unlawful discrimination

Opposition is informing an employer that you believe that he/she is engaging in prohibited discrimination.

Opposition is protected from retaliation as long as it is based on a reasonable, good-faith belief that the complained of practice violates anti-discrimination law; and the manner of the opposition is reasonable.

Examples of protected opposition include:

-Complaining to anyone about alleged discrimination against oneself or others;

-Threatening to file a charge of discrimination;

-Picketing in opposition to discrimination; or

-Refusing to obey an order reasonably believed to be discriminatory.

Participation in an employment discrimination proceeding is also protected activity.

Participation means taking part in an employment discrimination proceeding. Participation is protected activity even if the proceeding involved claims that ultimately were found to be invalid. Examples of participation include:

-Filing a charge of employment discrimination;

-Cooperating with an internal investigation of alleged discriminatory practices; or

-Serving as a witness in an EEO investigation or litigation.

A protected activity can also include requesting a reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability.

For more information about Protected Activities, see EEOC's Compliance Manual, Section 8, Chapter II, Part B - Opposition and Part C - Participation.



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