On November 11th, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced a joint anti-retaliation initiative to protect workers’ rights. Basically, the initiative raises public awareness about retaliation issues when workers exercise their protected labor rights. Specifically, the collaborating agencies will engage with employers, businesses and labor organizations, and civil rights groups on such issues. The initiative will launch on November 17th, 2021, with a virtual dialogue. Previously, in August 2021, the EEOC launched a series of diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops.

Background on Workplace Retaliation

According to EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows, charges of alleged retaliation have continued to increase yearly as a percentage of the total number of charges filed with the EEOC. All in all, Burrows claims that “retaliation is a persistent and urgent problem in American workplaces.” In fact, in fiscal year 2020, retaliation based on all statutes represented 55.8% of the total number of charges filed. That number was up from 53.8% the previous fiscal year.

Section 15(a)(3) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that it is a violation for any person to discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee for:

  • filing any complaint related to a violation of workers’ rights under the FLSA,
  • instituting or testifying in any proceeding related to a violation, or
  • serving on a committee related to protected labor rights under the FLSA.

Furthermore, employees are protected regardless of whether the complaint is made orally or in writing.

Overview of the Joint Anti-Retaliation Initiative

The joint initiative will launch on November 17th, 2021, with a virtual dialogue targeting the employer community. In brief, the virtual discussion will focus on anti-retaliation protections for workers who exercise their rights under federal labor law. Furthermore, the virtual dialogue will highlight the agency’s commitment to enforcement under the joint anti-retaliation initiative. Typically, the three agencies involved in the initiative have dual mandates:

  1. to enforce laws that protect workers as they exercise their rights under federal labor law, and
  2. help employers understand their responsibilities under federal workplace laws.

The initiative will build on the memoranda of understanding between the EEOC and the NLRB, as well as between the DOL and the EEOC. Overall, the initiative will strengthen interagency relationships. As a result, the three agencies will work together to effectively and efficiently protect workers’ rights and enforce related federal labor laws.

Harassment Investigation Procedures Compliance Program

Employers must follow anti-retaliation laws throughout a variety of workplace procedures. For example, during investigations into workplace harassment, employers have to ensure a thorough and legally compliant process. Moreover, employers must treat all parties involved fairly and impartially. To help employers maintain compliance during harassment investigations, Personnel Concepts created the Harassment Investigation Procedures Compliance Program. This digital program includes several resources outlying the steps to correct and investigate any workplace harassment claims.