By Staff

WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The U.S. Department of Labor announced on November 10 the launch of a joint initiative with the National Labor Relations Board and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to raise awareness about retaliation issues in the workplace and educate workers on their protected labor rights.

The initiative will launch on November 17 with a virtual dialogue with the employer community focused on the importance of worker’s anti-retaliation protections and the agencies’ shared commitment to vigorous enforcement.

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In the statement, Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda also emphasized the importance of workers understanding their rights. “The enforcement of labor laws only works when workers who speak out for themselves and their fellow workers and not fear or suffer from retaliation,” she said.

Nanda also reiterated the initiative’s commitment to enforcing labor laws, stating that the Department of Labor was committed to using “all tools available to protect workers from retaliation” in its fight against “wage theft, misclassification, discrimination, unsafe or unhealthy workplaces, and other unlawful employment practices.”

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According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “protected activity” includes:

  • filing or being a witness in an EEO charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit
  • communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination, including harassment
  • answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment
  • refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
  • resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others
  • requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice
  • asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.

National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo reiterated the importance of protecting workers from retaliation and highlighted the importance of a joint initiative, writing that “these issues cut across multiple worker protection agencies, which is why it is so important to work collaboratively to effectively prevent and forcefully address retaliatory acts against workers.”

The initiative also seeks to build better relationships between the agencies and encourage working collaboratively.

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“Retaliation is a persistent and urgent problem in American workplaces. Charges alleging retaliation have increased as a percentage of the total number of charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission every year for the last 20 years,” said U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “Together, working with our interagency partners and with employers, we must tackle this urgent problem and help ensure that employers have effective strategies for taking immediate action to stop retaliation. Staff