What is workplace retaliation?

What is workplace retaliation?

Employment laws are in place for two general purposes: to ensure fair treatment for employees and employers and restrict the chance for an employer to retaliate against a legal problem that has been exposed by an employee.

Workplace retaliation (or reprisal) is when an employer responds to an employee’s legal claim by penalizing them for filing that claim.

For example, if an employee made a claim that they had been discriminated against by their employer, and in response, the employer scheduled the employee with reduced shifts at work, this would be a form of reprisal. All employees are protected from discrimination under the Employment Standards Act and are entitled to filing a claim if they are treated otherwise.

According to the ESA, an employer cannot penalize an employee if they:

  • ask the employer to follow the rules outlined in the ESA,
  • ask about their rights outlined in the ESA,
  • file a complaint,
  • exercise their rights that are protected in the ESA,
  • disclose certain facts to an Employment Standards Officer,
  • inquire about equal pay to their employer,
  • share their pay with a colleague to determine whether they are receiving equal pay,
  • exercise a form of leave like paternity leave or family caregiver leave,
  • must attend a garnishment order,
  • must attend a court proceeding,
  • must attend a proceeding under the Retail Business Holidays Act.

Under the ESA, an employer is prohibited from penalizing or threatening to penalize an employee by (and not limited to) the act of punishment, intimidation, reduction in pay, termination, or suspension. If an employer does behave this way toward an employee, the ESA can re-establish their job or provide the employee with compensation to alleviate the damages of these acts.

Workplace retaliation should not be confused with initiating consequences. Consequences are when an employer reasonably decides to act on an employee’s performance or behaviour. For example, if an employee in sales has not achieved their sales goals for five consecutive months and the employer chooses to fire them, that would be considered a suitable consequence by the employer.

If an employee has filed a claim while simultaneously not achieving the expectations of their role, the claim would not invalidate their lack of performance. If there is clear proof that the employee has not been executing their responsibilities before the claim was made, any reasonable consequence the employer has decided to institute may not be considered a form of reprisal.

If you believe your employer has retaliated against your claim, please contact, KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.