“After reporting our boss for improper behavior, what can we do to prevent being retaliated against?”

Question: I work for a California state agency. After my colleagues and I reported our boss for having intimate relations with a subordinate – which is clearly forbidden by our agency’s policies – she is being investigated. Both before and after we reported this to Human Resources, the subordinate had our boss make our lives miserable.

Now that our boss is being investigated, we all fear being reassigned to a less desirable area, using the excuse of the State’s austerity measures, cost-cutting or reassignment of staff as an excuse for what really would be retaliation. What can we do to prevent her from retaliating against us?

Morro Bay, California

Answer: The most effective way to prevent retaliation for reporting wrongdoing is to raise your concerns (a) preemptively, (b) in writing, (c) to the highest levels.

I suggest you write to your agency’s Director, and tell him or her that you are concerned that you will be retaliated against for being one of those individuals who either reported your boss, or participated honestly in the investigation of her behavior.

Tell your agency’s Director that you believe you have already suffered the wrath of the boss’s boyfriend, and that you are concerned about a retaliatory transfer, layoff, or other negative employment action.

Tell your agency’s Director, too, that you understand that your agency will not tolerate such retaliation, and you would appreciate it if the Director write a memo to your boss, and the subordinate, and tell them that “Retaliation of any kind, against anyone, will simply not be tolerated.”

Ask for intervention as soon as possible, in clear and convincing terms. If you later suspect you have, indeed, suffered retaliation, or are about to, immediately send an email to the Director, and insist on an immediate investigation of it, and halt to it.

We offer a Model Letter to assist you in pre-emptively raising your concern of retaliation. If you would like to obtain a copy of the Pre-Emptive Anti-Retaliation Letter (PEARL) to Board Chair [click here].

Retaliation at work is like an illness; it is better prevented early than treated later.

Feel you’ve been retaliated against? Use our “Model Memo Objecting to Retaliation on the Job” to stop it and have it reversed. “What to Say, and How to Say It,™ just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

Hope this helps. Please consider writing to tell us how it went.

Best, Al Sklover

P.S.: If you would like to speak with me directly about this or other workplace-related subjects, I am available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations. (Even 5-minute “Just One Question” calls.). Just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can be accommodated.

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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