Anti Retaliation Training: 5 Key Elements To Create An Effective Training

Anti retaliation training provides management and employees with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to recognize, report, prevent and/or properly address retaliation and potential violations of the law. 

Training should be tailored to teach workers and managers about the specific federal whistleblower protection laws and company policies that apply to them.

  • Employees’ rights under the laws
  • How employ­ees can exercise their rights using available internal and external protection programs
  • Organizational benefits of such programs

Anti- Retaliation Training for Employees 

  • Relevant laws and regulations.
  • An explanation of the employer’s commitment to creat­ing a culture of legal compliance, addressing concerns from all employees, and complying with its code of ethics, including prohibitions on retaliation.
  • Employees’ rights and obligations, if any, to report potential hazards and violations of the law externally, regardless of whether the employee first reported the violation to the employer.
  • Statutory rights to be protected from retaliation for reporting potential viola­tions or concerns.
  • The elements of the employer’s anti-retaliation program.
  • What constitutes retaliation, including actions such as firing or laying off, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, disciplining, denying benefits, fail­ure to hire or rehire, reducing pay or hours and making false accusations of poor performance.

Anti-Retaliation Training for Supervisors 

  • Skills for defusing conflict, problem-solving, and stopping retaliation.
  • How to respond to a report of a workplace concern while protecting an employee’s confidentiality and without engaging or appearing to engage in retaliation.
  • How to separate annoying or inappropriate behavior from the concern itself.
  • Consequences for managers who fail to follow anti-retaliation policies or respond to concerns inappropriately.
  • How to recognize that an employee believes there has been retaliation, when employers are required to act, and the potential legal consequences the employer and the manager face for inaction.
  • Employers should create a process for staying up to date on changes to anti-retaliation laws and regulations and update their train­ing and policies accordingly.

Creating Anti- Retaliation Program 

Implementing an effective anti-retaliation program is not intuitive and requires specific policies and commitments. There are five key elements to creating an effective anti-retaliation program:

  1. Management Leadership, Commitment, and Accountability

To prevent retaliation and follow the integral law aspects of the workplace culture, it is important that senior management demonstrate leadership and commitment to these values. Senior management, such as the CEO and board (if applicable), should lead by example to demonstrate a culture of valuing and addressing employees’ concerns regarding potential violations of the law and commitment to preventing retaliation. 

To demonstrate commitment, management should back up words with actions; written policies that are not actively practiced and enforced are ineffective. Managers at all levels should be held accountable for the quality of their response to employees’ concerns, including reports of potential violations of the law, of safety hazards, and of retaliation.

  1. System for Resolving Employees’ Safety and Compliance Concerns

To help prevent retaliation, employers should proactively foster an organizational culture that values concerns about workplace conditions and activities. Employers can cultivate such an environment by listening to and resolving employees’ compliance concerns. 

Specifically, employers should establish procedures that enable employees to report concerns (including through confidential or anonymous channels, when possible), provide a fair and transparent evaluation of concerns raised, offer a timely response, and ensure a fair and effective resolution of concerns. In developing these policies, employers should work with employees

  1. System for Receiving and Responding to Reports of Retaliation

Employees who believe they have experienced retaliation should have independent channels for reporting the retaliation; they should not be required to report to the manager who they believe retaliated against them. 

The reporting employee should also have the ability to elevate the matter to

higher levels, if necessary. There should be clearly defined roles and responsibilities for managers at all levels and others who are involved in responding to reports of retaliation, such as human resources or ethics and compliance personnel. The procedures should be known and accessible to all.

Employers should investigate the claim promptly and thoroughly when retaliation is reported, utilizing an established retaliation response system.

Employers should respond quickly to reports of retaliation. Failure to do so can dis- courage employees from reporting concerns about workplace conditions or activities.

If the employer confirms that retaliation took place, it should remedy the retaliation and review its anti-retaliation program to determine why the system failed and what changes may be needed to prevent future retaliation. If any, workers and worker representatives (if any) should be integrally involved in this evaluation.

  1. Anti-retaliation Training for Employees and Managers

Effective training of employees and all levels of management and the board (if applicable) is key to any anti-retaliation program. Training is essential because it provides management and employees with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to recognize, report, prevent, and/or properly address hazards, potential violations of the law, and retaliation.

  1. Program Oversight

A well-designed anti-retaliation program needs rigorous oversight to ensure that it is effective and working as intended. Employers should develop and implement a plan for oversight of the anti-retaliation program, review oversight findings, and ensure that the program is improved and modified as needed.

In order to effectively support employee reporting and protect employees from retaliation, employers should integrate all five elements into a cohesive program.

Anti- Retaliation Policy 

The purpose of this policy is to encourage any concerned parties to come forward with credible information on illegal practices or violations of adopted policies of the organization. The policy specifies that the organization will protect the individual from retaliation and identifies the appropriate procedure(s) for reporting these issues.

What to Add to Non-retaliation Policies

  • Communicate zero tolerance for any adverse action. It is important to let your employees know that retaliation to a complaint is in no way acceptable, and serious disciplinary action will follow.
  • Make it known that discussing a discrimination allegation is inappropriate. Discussing allegations and individuals involved in a report can cause unintentional retaliation and should be avoided during the investigation.  
  • Convey the importance of continuing to provide the same tools and support to employees who have submitted complaints. If tools or information that are necessary for an employee to do their job are withheld from them, it may be considered retaliatory because their performance may decline, and consequences may follow. You can avoid this by ensuring employees will maintain the same privileges and access to support after filing a complaint.

What Not to Add to Non-retaliation Policies

  • To isolate or exclude protected employees who have reported policy violations or laws. Protected employees should have the same daily work experience that they have always had. If they normally attend weekly meetings, they should continue being invited to weekly meetings. 
  • That anger or revenge is reasonable if someone submits a complaint against you. Each supervisor and colleague of the protected employee should stay professional and remain neutral about any person who submits a complaint against them.

Final Thoughts

Effective training of managers and employees at all levels of an organization is an essential element of any anti-retaliation program. It ensures that the concepts should not only be discussed during the designated training sessions but should be reinforced frequently using other types of communications in order to make it part of the workplace culture. 

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