As an employee, much of your life is dependent on the goodwill of your employer. From your daily schedule to your household budget, almost every aspect of your life reflects your employment situation. Given the amount of authority and power an employer has over its workers, it is of the utmost importance that those employees know their rights, especially when an employer has started to engage in questionable practices.

Employees should have the right to bring up violations of the law, violations of their rights and other significant concerns to management, human resources or even the appropriate government regulatory agency without it impacting their employment.

When a company penalizes a worker for reporting misconduct, their behaviors could constitute retaliation. Many times, employers retaliate against a worker by firing them, but not all forms of retaliation are that obvious.

Retaliation may involve a suddenly hostile workplace

If you file a complaint with management for human resources because you’ve experienced harassment or discrimination from your manager or your co-workers, the company should treat that complaint seriously and perform an investigation.

They should protect you by revealing as little about the situation to others as possible. Some companies will try to force a person out of the business after they file a complaint by informing everyone in a department about the complaint. This can turn co-workers hostile and make it difficult for someone to continue performing their job.

Your employer suddenly takes issue with everything about your job performance

If you’ve always received glowing or at least standard performance reviews, suddenly facing write-ups, poor performance reviews or other disciplinary action without a change in your performance or behavior is often a red flag of retaliation. The company may try to create an artificial paper trail to justify demoting or even firing you at a later time.

Your employer changes your job responsibilities or makes your work harder

Sometimes, instead of giving you negative performance reviews and writing you up, management might decide to make your job more difficult or less lucrative. These tactics can include refusing you the same supports they offer others or just making your job unpleasant.

If you work in sales, you might find yourself receiving fewer leaves. If you work in customer service, your scheduled hours may be lower every week or the shifts that you receive may be worse in terms of anticipated sales and gratuities. In some cases, your employer might openly demote you or cut your pay with a feeble excuse.

Companies that try to punish workers for reporting employer or co-worker wrongdoing violate their employees’ rights by engaging in retaliation instead of protecting them. Taking action protects not only your career but also other workers who could face the same situation in the future.