WASHINGTON: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today announced a joint initiative to raise awareness about retaliation issues when workers exercise their protected labor rights.
The initiative will include collaboration among these civil law enforcement agencies 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.
On Nov. 17, the initiative will launch with a virtual dialogue with the employer community focused on the importance of workers’ anti-retaliation protections for those exercising their rights, and the agencies’ shared commitment to vigorous enforcement.
“Retaliation is a persistent and urgent problem in American workplaces,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “Charges alleging retaliation have increased as a percentage of the total number of charges filed with the EEOC every year for the last 20 years. Together, working with our interagency partners and with employers, we must tackle this urgent problem and help ensure that employers have effective strategies for taking immediate action to stop retaliation.”
“The enforcement of labor laws only works when workers who speak out for themselves and their fellow workers and not fear or suffer from retaliation,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “In the U.S. Department of Labor’s fight against wage theft, misclassification, discrimination, unsafe or unhealthy workplaces, and other unlawful employment practices, we will use all tools available to protect workers from retaliation. This collaboration among federal labor enforcement agencies will form a bulwark against unlawful retaliation.”
The initiative announced today will build on the work of memoranda of understanding between the agencies and strengthen interagency relationships. By doing so, the three agencies seek to ensure they cooperate effectively and efficiently to enforce related laws and protect workers’ rights.
Typically, these agencies have dual mandates: to enforce laws that protect workers who exercise their workplace rights, and help employers understand their responsibilities under federal workplace laws.
“All too often, workers face adverse action for speaking out about their pay, health and safety issues, discrimination, or other working conditions. Under the National Labor Relations Act, it is unlawful for employers to retaliate against workers for taking collective action to improve their working conditions,” said National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “These issues cut across multiple worker protection agencies, which is why it is so important to work collaboratively to effectively prevent and forcefully address retaliatory acts against workers.”