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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Youth at Work

Select any of the questions below to get quick answers to some common questions about illegal workplace retaliation.

  1. Is it illegal to harass someone because they complain about job discrimination or talk to the EEOC?
  2. Can my employer punish me if the EEOC investigates my complaint and determines that there was no discrimination?
  3. Can my employer punish me if I serve as a witness in an EEOC investigation?
  4. Can my employer discriminate against or harass me because someone I am related to files a job discrimination complaint against my company?
  5. Can my employer retaliate against me if I no longer work at the company?
  6. Can I file a retaliation complaint if I don't want to file a complaint based on another protected trait, like my disability or sex?
  7. Can my employer punish me if I say that I am going to file a job discrimination complaint with the EEOC, but then decide not to?
  8. Can my employer punish me for requesting a workplace change because of my religious beliefs or disability?
  9. Can my employer punish me for complaining about age discrimination if I am not age 40 or older?
  10. Can my employer punish me for complaining about disability discrimination if I am not an individual with a disability?
  11. Can an employer refuse to hire me because I filed an EEOC job discrimination complaint against another company?
  12. Can my employer punish me for talking to an attorney about job discrimination at my workplace?
  13. Am I protected against retaliation if I refuse to obey an order that I believe is discriminatory?
  14. Is it illegal to be discriminated against or harassed because I filed an EEOC complaint and because of another prohibited reason, like my sex or race?

Is it illegal to harass someone because they complain about job discrimination or talk to the EEOC?

Yes. The laws enforced by EEOC protect you from being harassed because you file a job discrimination complaint with the EEOC, report discrimination to others, or help someone else report job discrimination, even if it turns out the conduct was not illegal.


Can my employer punish me if the EEOC investigates my complaint and determines that there was no discrimination?

No. When you file a job discrimination complaint with the EEOC or otherwise participate in an EEOC investigation or lawsuit, you are protected against retaliation regardless of the validity or reasonableness of the original allegation of discrimination.


Can my employer punish me if I serve as a witness in an EEOC investigation?

No. The laws enforced by EEOC protect you from being punished, treated differently, or harassed because you serve as a witness in an EEOC investigation.


Can my employer discriminate against or harass me because someone I am related to files a job discrimination complaint against my company?

No. Your employer cannot discriminate against or harass you because your relative reports job discrimination or otherwise participates in a job discrimination proceeding, such as an investigation or lawsuit. For example, your employer cannot discriminate against or harass you because your sister, who also works for the company, filed a job discrimination complaint with the EEOC.


Can my employer retaliate against me if I no longer work at the company?

No. An employer may not retaliate against job applicants, current employees, or former employees. For example, your employer cannot give you a bad job reference because you file a job discrimination complaint with the EEOC after you resign.


Can I file a retaliation complaint if I don't want to file a complaint based on another protected trait, like my disability or sex?

Yes. You may file a retaliation complaint stating that you were punished, harassed, or otherwise treated differently because you opposed discrimination or participated in a discrimination investigation or proceeding, even if you do not file a complaint that you were treated differently because of race, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy), religion, disability, or genetic information.


Can my employer punish me if I say that I am going to file a job discrimination complaint with the EEOC, but then decide not to?

No. Your employer may not discriminate against or harass you because you threaten to file a job discrimination complaint with the EEOC, even if you decide not to file the complaint.


Can my employer punish me for requesting a workplace change because of my religious beliefs or disability?

No. Your employer may not discriminate against or harass you because you request a workplace change because of your religious beliefs or disability, even if your employer declines your request.


Can my employer punish me for complaining about age discrimination if I am not age 40 or older?

No. Your employer cannot discriminate against or harass you because you complain about age discrimination, even if you are under age 40. Anyone who reports age discrimination is protected from retaliation.


Can my employer punish me for complaining about disability discrimination if I am not an individual with a disability?

No. Your employer cannot discriminate against or harass you because you complain about disability discrimination, even if you do not have a disability. Anyone who reports disability discrimination is protected from retaliation.


Can an employer refuse to hire me because I filed an EEOC job discrimination complaint against another company?

No. When you file an EEOC job discrimination complaint or otherwise participate in an EEOC proceeding, you are protected against retaliation by any covered employer, even if the complaint involved a different company.


Can my employer punish me for talking to an attorney about job discrimination at my workplace?

No. You are protected from retaliation if you reasonably complain about job discrimination to a manager, union official, co-worker, company EEO official, attorney, newspaper reporter, Congressperson, or anyone else. As long as (1) you have a reasonable and good faith belief that the practice you are complaining about is illegal, (2) you oppose the practice in a reasonable manner, and (3) it is reasonably clear that you are complaining about illegal job discrimination, your employer may not retaliate against you.


Am I protected against retaliation if I refuse to obey an order that I believe is discriminatory?

Yes. You are protected from retaliation if you refuse to obey an order because you reasonably believe that the order requires you to carry out unlawful employment discrimination. For example, your employer may not discriminate against or harass you if you refuse to honor a client's request for only female applicants because you reasonably believe the request is illegal sex discrimination.


Is it illegal to be discriminated against or harassed because I filed an EEOC complaint and because of another prohibited reason, like my sex or race?

Yes. It is illegal to be discriminated against because of the combination of two protected categories. For example, your employer cannot punish women who file job discrimination complaints, even if it does not punish men for reporting discrimination.