One of the most troubling accusations that your company might face at some point is that you retaliated against an employee. Claims of retaliation are taken very seriously and must be given the attention they deserve. Because of the chance of a current or former employee making this claim, you should ensure that you are keeping accurate and comprehensive records for everyone who works for you.
Having a record of negative employment behavior by an employee can go a long way in showing that there wasn't any retaliation in the matter. Employees might claim that they were doing their best job before you terminated them or cut their pay. If the records show otherwise, there is a good chance that they won't be able to prove that retaliation occurred.
In order to make a valid claim for retaliation, there are three points that must be present. When any of these are missing, retaliation didn't occur.
- The employee must have engaged in a protected activity, such as reporting discrimination or harassment.
- The employee must have suffered some sort of negative employment action, including termination, demotion, pay cut or similar acts.
- The employee must tie the negative employment action to the protected activity.
You should know that circumstantial evidence is allowable in these cases. Direct evidence is still allowable, but there isn't a standard that says this needs to be present. Your goal in these cases is to show that the actions that your company took were in direct response to the employee's work performance and not the fact that they engaged in a protected activity.