An adverse action is an action taken to try to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory practice, or from participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. Examples of adverse actions include:
- employment actions such as termination, refusal to hire,and denial of promotion,
- other actions affecting employment such as threats, unjustified negative evaluations, unjustified negative references, or increased surveillance, and
- any other action such as an assault or unfounded civil or criminal charges that are likely to deter reasonable people from pursuing their rights.
Adverse actions do not include petty slights and annoyances, such as stray negative comments in an otherwise positive or neutral evaluation, "snubbing" a colleague, or negative comments that are justified by an employee's poor work performance history.
Even if the prior protected activity alleged wrongdoing by a different employer, retaliatory adverse actions are unlawful. For example, it is unlawful for a worker's current employer to retaliate against him for pursuing an EEO charge against a former employer.
Of course, employees are not excused from continuing to perform their jobs or follow their company's legitimate workplace rules just because they have filed a complaint with the EEOC or opposed discrimination.
For more information about adverse actions, see EEOC's Compliance Manual Section 8, Chapter II, Part D.
Covered individuals are people who have opposed unlawful practices, participated in proceedings, or requested accomodations related to employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Individuals who have a close association with someone who has engaged in such protected activity also are covered individuals.
Protected activity 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 complaint 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; or
- Picketing in opposition to discrimination; or
- Refusing to obey an order reasonably believed to be discriminatory.
Participation in an employment discrimination proceeding.
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.
For more information about Protected Activities, see EEOC's Compliance Manual, Section 8,
Chapter II, Part B - Opposition and Part C - Participation.
In 2004 more that $90 million in monetary benefits were received by charging parties and other aggrieved individuals....this does not include menetary benefits obtained through litigation.