HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.


What Is Retaliation?

According to the retaliation guidelines, an employer cannot respond to specific employee actions with undue punishment. An example would be firing an employee who reached out to HR regarding overtime pay. If an employee is acting within their rights, it is unlawful to retaliate against that employee.

What Are Examples of Retaliation?

Retaliation can take many forms. Some examples listed in the WHD guidelines include:

  • Termination of an employee
  • Disciplinary action
  • Any threat of violence
  • Demoting the employee
  • Reducing an employee’s hours
  • Blacklisting an employee
  • Removing an employee from a necessary meeting

Can Employers Terminate At-will Employees in Retaliation?

Some employers may believe an at-will employment relationship gives them the freedom to fire employees in retaliation. This is incorrect. At-will employment does not cover discrimination and retaliatory actions.

At-will means that an employee can be fired without reason or for any reason so long as the reason is legal. Retaliation and discrimination are both illegal practices and are therefore not covered by the at-will termination policy. 

Related Terms: At-Will Employment

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