In recent years, more than a third of the charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have included an allegation that the employee was retaliated against for asserting his or her rights. In a retaliation case, the employee claims that the employer took a negative job action (such as firing or demoting the employee) because the employee complained of harassment or discrimination. Even if the underlying complaint turns out to be unfounded, the employee can still win a retaliation claim by showing that something negative happened because of the complaint.
Without protection from retaliation, the laws prohibiting harassment and discrimination would be very difficult to enforce. After all, if an employee could be fired for making a complaint, very few employees would be willing to report problems. Judges and juries alike seem to recognize this. Juries often slam employers found guilty of retaliation with high damage awards. And the Supreme Court has issued a series of decisions in retaliation cases that side with employees.