Colorado State University protects all participants in the complaint and grievance processes from retaliation. Per the Colorado State University Procedure for Resolution of Discrimination Complaints and the Colorado State University Sexual Harassment Policy, “No person shall restrain, interfere with, coerce, attempt to intimidate, or take any reprisal against a participant under these procedures. Failure to comply with this expectation may result in the imposition of University sanctions.”
The retaliation and whistleblower protection policy complements the retaliation prohibitions and protections in existing policies and procedures.
Retaliation is defined as adverse action(s) against an employee because they have made a charge, served as a witness, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, grievance proceeding, or hearing concerning an unlawful employment practice.
Per federal case law and regulatory agency guidance, there are three essential elements in a claim of retaliation:
- Protected activity
- Adverse action
- Causal connection
Protected activity is defined as opposition to discrimination including filing a complaint and/or participation in the complaint process. Anti-retaliation provisions make it unlawful to discriminate against any individual because they have opposed any practice made unlawful under the employment discrimination statutes and/or because they have made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, hearing, or litigation.
The most obvious types of adverse action are denial of promotion, refusal to hire, denial of job benefits, demotion, suspension, and discharge. Other types of adverse actions include threats, reprimands, negative evaluations, harassment, or other adverse treatment. Further, the Supreme Court has ruled that retaliation may also include any acts that are “materially adverse” to a reasonable employee-whether or not those acts result in a loss of pay, benefits, or any other privileges of employment. That is, an employee or supervisor’s actions must be harmful to the point that they could well dissuade a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination. 1
Causal connection is proof that the employer took an adverse action because an individual engaged in a protected activity. Proof of this retaliatory motive can be through direct or circumstantial evidence.
The University wishes to make clear that it considers acts or threats of retaliation to constitute a serious violation of University policy.