Take Stock to Ensure No-Retaliation Policy at Work


Working in the flower shop at a well-known food shopping chain was something that Cathy did enthusiastically. Customers would come in to shop for cereal, meat, cheese and milk, yet often stop by Cathy’s booth with its riot of colorful blooms to grab a perky bouquet. The arrangements that she made grew so popular that Cathy had trouble keeping pace with the demand. She was so busy arranging flowers that the manager assigned others to mop up water from spills, sweep debris clear of the floor, and keep everything tidy for Cathy—not that the workers were good at staying on top of the job. Cathy noted with concern that on more than one occasion, a slippery puddle of water hadn’t been cleaned up, and she warned the manager during a safety briefing about her concerns, certain that he would want to head off a grocery store workers compensation claim. To her surprise and dismay, the manager actually began treating Cathy in a way that ultimately she felt was possible retaliation.
Cathy had become accustomed to hearing nothing but praise from her manager, echoing what her customers said about her work. Now her manager made a point of daily stopping by to critique her arrangements and point out so-called deficiencies. Her hours were cut and suddenly, requests for certain days off that she needed in order to help out at her daughter’s kindergarten class—never a problem in the past—were routinely denied. She was passed over for a promotion that the manager had all but promised her earlier, was asked to work overtime and even skip scheduled breaks for rest and lunch. Other workers noticed what was going on and, fearing for their own jobs, were reluctant to speak up when safety violations or other possible problems emerged. This kind of behavior is common in the aftermath of a retaliatory act, and can cause serious damage to a business’ culture and employee morale. What’s more, an expensive lawsuit can result, because there are laws and policies that prohibit workplace retaliation, as Cathy’s lawyer explained to her.
Work with your legal department to ensure that your workplace has policies and procedures in place that are designed to ensure compliance with the actual requirements as well as the spirit of federal laws prohibiting retaliation in the workplace. And work with your professional insurance agent to ensure that your establishment is protected with an appropriate amount of grocery store workers compensation coverage.