No one should have to deal with discrimination or harassment in the workplace. But fear of reprisal or losing a job can be a powerful motivator to silence those that employers discriminate against.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protects a number of actions against discrimination so that if you do need to take legal recourse or protect yourself against discrimination in the workplace, there is no risk to yourself for exercising those rights.
Protecting yourself and others from discrimination
The EEO refers to these rights as “protected activities” and they include a number of scenarios to protect you from harassment or discrimination as well as any action you take to protect others from the same.
This can range from simple requests like asking for accommodations based on a disability or religious practice all the way up to directly intervening to protect others from sexual advances. As long as you act upon a reasonable belief that the discrimination was in violation of these laws, the EEO protects you from retaliation.
What it does not protect
Your EEO activities have no bearing on some discipline your employer may issue provided the reasons are non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory.
This is rocky footing sometimes. Claiming something is non-retaliatory does not necessarily mean it is more legal. Depending on your circumstance, situations like undesirable transfers, unfair workloads and increased scrutiny may fall under EEO definitions of retaliation.
When it comes to discrimination, each case has unique nuances to consider. It comes down to investigation and good resources to answer these hard questions, but the EEO protects your right to report and put a stop to this discrimination without the fear of reprisal.