Organizational Culture Critical to Creating Anti-Retaliation Workplace, SHRM Tells EEOC

HR consultant says a company policy, training and timely investigations are key to addressing discriminatory retaliation

Jun 17, 2015
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The culture of an organization is the single most important element in preventing and addressing retaliation in the workplace, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) told the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today.

In the EEOC hearing “Retaliation in the Workplace: Causes, Remedies and Strategies for Prevention,” Sharon L. Sellers, SHRM-SCP, provided an overview of how employers can design and put into place effective workplace programs to help prevent retaliation and discrimination.

Speaking on behalf of the more than 275,000-member SHRM, Sellers noted that retaliation claims have become the most frequent and potentially costliest type of workplace dispute.

“Alleviating retaliation and discrimination in the workplace is important to employers,” she said in written testimony. “Employers want these behaviors out of their organizations so they can focus on assisting their employees in succeeding, which will, in turn, allow their organizations to succeed.”

Sellers, president of SLS Consulting in Santee, S.C., said, “In order for an anti-retaliation program to be effective, employers should create a culture where employees respect each other and where open communication regarding diversity and inclusion is encouraged. Senior management must lead this effort in order to encourage buy-in from middle management and first-line employees.”

Sellers, an HR professional with more than 30 years of experience, is the state director of the South Carolina SHRM State Council.

In addition to creating an anti-discrimination culture, Sellers said, “An effective program should include specific elements such as a clearly written policy, training for employees as well as management, and prompt and detailed investigations.”

The education of supervisors and managers is important, particularly training in documenting employee performance. “Accurate documentation can assist employees in understanding and improving poor performance, which may help them succeed in their positions. Such documentation also provides clarity of the intent behind employee management decisions,” she said.

“When confronted with compelling evidence of the business case,” Sellers said in written testimony, “employers understand that an effective anti-retaliation program increases employee engagement, improves organizational performance, and reduces complaints.

Full testimony is available at

MEDIA: For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Kate Kennedy at Kate.kennedy@shrm.organd 703-535-6260 or at 703-535-6072.

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at Follow us on Twitter at: SHRMPress
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