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Federal discrimination statutes contain provisions to protect employees who raise good faith concerns about discrimination, as well as those who support other victims of discrimination. Retaliation protections are important because they protect individuals even if they were not actually victims, as well as those who were not sufficiently harmed to warrant bringing a discrimination claim. An employee need not prove that the discrimination about which he or she complained (or supported a complaint) was a violation of the law. All an employee need show is that he or she reasonably believed that the actions were a violation of the law. Retaliation protections can apply to internal grievances as well as to claims made in court or to federal agencies. If an employee makes or supports a complaint about which he or she reasonably believed involved a claim of unlawful discrimination and the employer takes an adverse action against the employee, then the employer may be liable for retaliation.

Retaliation protections apply to a broad number of workplace issues beyond discrimination provisions. The test for whether an employer’s actions are covered under the retaliation provisions is whether they would dissuade or discourage a reasonable employee from making or supporting a claim of harassment.

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