The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today the release of comprehensive guidance on the prohibition against retaliation aimed at individuals who file charges of employment discrimination or who participate in the investigation of an EEO charge.

The Supreme Court addressed the issue of retaliation last year, in Robinson v. Shell Oil Company. The Court made it clear that employers are prohibited from retaliating against former employees as well as current employees for engaging in activity protected under the employment discrimination laws. The guidance explains that decision and also provides direction on what constitutes protected activity, what constitutes an adverse action that can be challenged as retaliatory, and what evidence is necessary to prove that an adverse action was caused by protected activity.

"It is important for the Commission to provide clear and comprehensive guidance on employers' obligations under the anti-retaliation provisions and on the legal standards that apply," said EEOC Chairman Paul M. Igasaki. "Few things are more fundamental to stopping discrimination than protecting a person's access to their rights without fear of retribution."

The number of charges alleging retaliation has more than doubled over the past several years. In fiscal year 1991, the Commission received over 7,900 charges by individuals claiming retaliation because they had filed charges or participated in the charge process. In fiscal year 1997, that number had risen to over 18,100 charges.

The policy guidance is set forth in a chapter that is the first installment of the Commission's new Compliance Manual. The new Manual eventually will replace Volume II of the Commission's existing Compliance Manual, and is more streamlined and functional.

The text of the guidance will be available on EEOC's web site at shortly after the release of the document. You can also obtain a copy by writing to EEOC's Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs, 1801 L Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20507.

EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals 40 years of age or older; sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; the Equal Pay Act; Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and state and local governments; and the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government.

This page was last modified on May 26, 1998.

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