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What are protected activities in a workplace?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2024 | Employment Law For Employers |

Protected activities refer to employee actions safeguarded by law to ensure they can exercise their legal rights at the workplace without fear of retaliation or discrimination. Employers are prohibited from taking adverse actions against employees for participating in these activities.

Such adverse actions may include termination, demotion, reduction in hours or pay, denying benefits or other negative treatment. As an employer, it’s important to understand and respect these protected activities to avoid legal issues.

Common examples of protected activities

Employees have the right to a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. As such, the law allows them to report harassment or discrimination based on protected characteristics like race, color, religion, sex, disability and age without reprisal. It is unlawful for employers to retaliate against employees for making such reports or for participating in investigations related to harassment or discrimination.

Taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is also protected by law. Eligible employees have the right to take leave for qualifying reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition or their own medical condition that prevents them from working.

Employees also have the right to engage in concerted activity with co-workers to address work-related issues under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This includes discussing wages and working conditions, organizing a union or participating in union activities. Other protected activities include – but are not limited to – whistleblowing, refusing to engage in illegal activities and filing workers’ compensation claims.

Shield your business from legal liability

Ignorance is not a defense in the eyes of the law. If you’re unsure about your employer obligations or need guidance on handling these situations in the workplace, consider seeking qualified guidance to protect your business interests.