The EEOC has revised guidance on employee protections against retaliation under laws it enforces—which apply in both the federal and private sectors—to address how those rights balance against employers’ needs to enforce COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
“Retaliation is the most frequently alleged form of discrimination in the EEOC’s charges overall and has been at the top for too many years,” an announcement said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created new situations and additional challenges, but it is no excuse to retaliate against people for opposing employment discrimination. This updated technical assistance provides additional clarity on how our laws balance workers’ rights to speak up without fear of retaliation against employers’ responsibilities to create a healthy and safe work environment.”
It said the key points include that:
* Job applicants and current and former employees are protected from retaliation by employers for asserting their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act and other anti-discrimination laws.
* Protected activity can take many forms, including filing a charge of discrimination; complaining to a supervisor about coworker harassment; or requesting accommodation of a disability or a religious belief, practice, or observance, regardless of whether the request is granted or denied.
* The ADA prohibits not only retaliation for protected EEO activity, but also “interference” with an individual’s exercise of ADA rights.
The guidance is part of an interagency initiative to “protect workers on issues of unlawful retaliatory conduct, educate the public and engage with employers, business organizations, labor organizations and civil rights groups in the coming year.”