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Civil Rights News | Feb. 21, 2023

Know Your Retaliation Protections

By Stephen Snyder, Equal Employment Opportunity Zone Manager, Civil Rights Directorate Civil Rights Directorate

Federal laws and policies prohibit agencies and organizations from punishing employees and job applicants for reporting or participating in processes that address employment discrimination and harassment. This means that Coast Guard military members, civilians, and applicants for employment have legal and policy protections against retaliation if they engage in Equal Employment Opportunity/Equal Opportunity (EEO/EO) activities.

Retaliation occurs when an employee receives adverse treatment or disciplinary consequences from managers, supervisors, or sometimes coworkers because they took part in the EEO/EO complaint process. For example, it is prohibited to take retaliatory actions against employees or applicants for participating in activities such as:

  • Reporting employment discrimination or harassment to a supervisor or manager
  • Contacting a Civil Rights Service Provider (CRSP)
  • Filing an EEO/EO complaint
  • Taking part in an investigation of alleged discrimination or harassment
  • Resisting sexual advances and harassment, reporting the behaviors, or intervening to protect others

The most common adverse actions seen from retaliation affect the employee’s job or working conditions and may include:

  • Termination or demotion
  • Non-selection for a position
  • Denial of job benefits
  • Unjustified negative performance evaluations
  • Transfer to a less desirable position
  • Changes in work hours, schedule, or location
  • Differences in treatment toward the employee or member 

The actions or treatment must be connected to the protected activity to be considered retaliation under the policies and the law. For example, if an adverse action occurred before any EEO/EO activity, the action would not be regarded as retaliation. If, however, the action occurred shortly after the EEO/EO activity, the timing of the action may infer that the adverse action was taken in response.

The total Coast Guard workforce and applicants for employment may and should report suspected discrimination or harassment. Failure to report or the fear of reporting such suspected behaviors may allow potential discriminatory conduct to continue and negatively affect the work environment or command climate. Improvements in the command climate may only be achieved if leadership is receptive to and supportive of people who report conduct that can degrade readiness and mission effectiveness.

Individuals may contact their local Civil Rights Service Provider (CRSP) to discuss reporting options or to file a complaint. If filing a complaint, contact your CRSP within 45 calendar days of the alleged event.