Retaliation: Definition, Laws & Examples

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  • 0:02 Retaliation Defined
  • 1:10 Retaliation Law
  • 2:06 Landlord Retaliation
  • 2:52 Examples of Retaliation
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Janell Blanco
Retaliation is illegal, and in this lesson we'll discuss the definition of retaliation. We'll also take a look at retaliation laws and see some examples of specific retaliation cases.

Retaliation Defined

Sue was just fired from her job. The employer said that she was let go because she filed a discrimination complaint against the company. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the government agency that's responsible for investigating claims of discrimination, protecting individuals from retaliation, and enforcing the laws of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The reason Sue filed a complaint was that she was denied a promotion because she's female and has a family. The company didn't feel she could give her position the full attention required and that she would be distracted by her children's needs. Sue was ultimately fired because she filed a complaint of discrimination. This is an example of retaliation, which is illegal.

Retaliation is defined as firing, demoting, harassing, or retaliating against an employee or individual because they have filed a complaint of discrimination, took part in an investigation into discrimination, or because they have opposed discrimination. The law prohibits retaliation so let's take a closer look at the civil rights law that protects employees from retaliation.

Retaliation Law

Sue's employer broke the law by firing her for filling a complaint. This is retaliation and according to the law, Sue has 90 days from the date she was fired to file a complaint with the EEOC.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating due to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The law also prohibits employers from retaliation against an employee because they have filed a complaint about discrimination.

Each state may also choose to investigate claims of retaliation. For example, California has the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement that individuals can file a complaint with and they will investigate the complaint. In Illinois, the Department of Human Rights will investigate claims of retaliation and discrimination. There are also states that do see retaliation firing as a crime. Alabama is one of those states, which is an at-will employment state, and employees can be terminated or employment status changed at any time for any reason.

Landlord Retaliation

Many of us have had that nightmarish landlord. But sometimes there are worse ones than others. As such, there's another form of retaliation that's illegal and it pertains to landlords and tenants. Different states have their own laws about retaliation from landlords. Landlords aren't allowed to retaliate against tenants that have complained about the conditions of the property, or for asking a public agency to come in and inspect the property, or for filing a lawsuit or starting the arbitration process because of the condition of the property.

In states such as Utah, Texas, and New York, landlords can't retaliate when a tenant exercises their remedy and deduct right. This means the tenant fixes the problem in the rental unit and deducts the costs from their rent. Retaliation from the landlord can occur through eviction or by raising the rent.

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