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Understanding Retaliation Laws in Construction Part 1

Proudly Serving Employers

Managing a jobsite comes with many complications. As if the complexity of performing work on a construction project isn’t enough of a challenge, contractors and construction businesses need to also be mindful of critical labor laws that, if violated, can seriously impact their business. One often overlooked area of these laws relates to retaliation.

In this four-part article, the Tampa construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law will discuss how construction employers can ensure they are not violating important laws supervised by the Department of Labor (DOL). Remember, for any of your construction firm’s legal needs, including DOL compliance, consult a Tampa construction lawyer.

Know the Law

Administered by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation complaints are the most commonly filed complaint by employees. The EEOC prohibits employers from “punishing job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination including harassment.” When an employee is asserting their rights, this is referred to as a protected activity.

Understanding Protected Activities

As we discussed above, an employee can lawfully engage in a protected activity. It’s important that employers understand what actions are considered lawful to ensure they aren’t retaliating against employees. These protected activities are as follows:

  • Contacting the EEOC: An employee has a right to contact the EEOC to report discrimination. The employee can file a complaint, request an investigation, or file a lawsuit. Furthermore, an employee doesn’t need to experience this discrimination firsthand in order to report an incident at their workplace.
  • Speaking with Management: Employees have the right to consult management about any incident of discrimination that occured in the workplace. If an employee communicates to a management-level employee that an act of discrimination occured, construction companies should take this report very seriously.
  • Investigations: If an employer is investigating harassment, an employee has a right to answer questions related to this investigation. For example, if an employer asks the employee if they witnessed another worker experience harassment, the employee is protected from an adverse employment-related action by detailing what they witnessed.
  • Requesting an Accommodation: If an employee has a disability that doesn’t prevent them from completing their job tasks, they have a right to request an accommodation. Similarly, employees can request accommodations related to their religion.
  • Intervention: Employees that intervene to stop a discriminatory act or refuse to follow orders that would result in an act of discrimination are also protected from retaliation.  

For more information on retaliation laws and the ways construction employers commit infractions, please read part two, three, and four.  

If you would like to speak with our Tampa construction lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.