Non-Retaliation Policies (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar
Oct. 23, 2022

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As a business owner, you may find yourself dealing with employees who file reports for alleged unethical or illegal behaviors.

Whether these claims are true or false, choosing to retaliate will almost always result in serious legal and financial repercussions for you and your organization.

Instead, it’s recommended to craft and clearly communicate non-retaliation policies with your workers.

Key Takeaways:

  • A non-retaliation policy protects employees from retaliation when they report violations of laws or company policy.

  • A non-retaliation policy is important or a business because it protects them from legal and financial consequences, as well as it promotes a healthy work environment.

  • A non-retaliation policy should emphasize zero tolerance for retaliation and let employees know how to report violations.

  • Supervisors should trained in how to manage non-retaliation behavior.

Non-Retaliation Policies (With Examples)

What Is A Non-Retaliation Policy?

A non-retaliation policy is held by a business that protects its employees from retaliation when they complain, report, or take part in an investigation that involves the violation of laws or company policy.

Retaliation in the workplace may take a number of different forms. These include but are not limited to:

  • Termination

  • Poor performance evaluation

  • Reduction of pay

  • Exclusion from corporate meetings or events

  • Victimization

  • Defamation of character

A non-retaliation policy ensures that a company meets both federal and state laws regarding worker protection. This policy is only considered when the behavior of the employee is considered legitimate, that is to say, the employee acted in good faith.

Why Is a Non-Retaliation Policy Needed?

Here are some major reasons why it’s important to create clear non-retaliation policies for your business:

  • Legal and financial consequences. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces state and federal laws that restrict companies from retaliating against whistleblowers.

    If you choose to do so, you’ll likely be forced to pay for their legal fees in addition to other compensation.

    Setting explicit non-retaliation policies for your company helps to prevent individual supervisors from making rash decisions and causing such problems.

  • Loss of reputation. In the age of the internet and social media, word of any employee mistreatment pattern at your organization will spread quickly.

    This could affect your business’ sales as ease of hiring quality candidates moving forward becomes difficult.

  • Staff morale. Retaliatory practices can negatively impact employee morale.

    Staff will feel less motivated to work their hardest to beat company records or contribute to projects. If employees feel that you don’t care about them, then they won’t care about you.

  • Company culture. Even if you weren’t planning on retaliating against whistleblowers anyway, creating clear policies fosters communication and honesty in your organization’s culture.

    Employees will be more willing to speak with their supervisors about their concerns rather than directly filing a report with OSHA.

What to Include in a Non-Retaliation Policy

When constructing non-retaliation policies for your organization, make sure you:

  • Emphasize zero tolerance for retaliation. Make it clear to supervisors and employees that your company strongly condemns the act of punishing staff who choose to voice or report their concerns.

  • Communicate that whistleblowers will receive the same tools and level of support. You want to reassure employees that if they choose to report the company, they’ll still be given the same level of support to do their job.

    By promising to respond to employee complaints in good faith, you increase the chances that staff will voice their concerns to supervisors rather than going straight to regulatory agencies.

  • Restrict the discussion of allegations among supervisors. Emotions inevitably run high when an employee chooses to file a complaint.

    You don’t want supervisors to voice their anger or suspicions to others. Such discussions can easily cause unintentional retaliation and cause even more problems for your organization.

    It’s better to avoid any risk and ban such discussions among supervisors entirely.

  • Express your appreciation for constructive criticism. Your company’s non-retaliation policy should communicate that you treat criticism as an opportunity to improve, rather than a slight against them.

    This encourages employees to report their concerns to the human resources department rather than immediately to government agencies.

  • Let employees know how to report violations. It’s not enough to simply state that your organization welcomes communication. You need to provide a convenient method for your employees to do so as well.

    Choose a standardized and straightforward method for your staff to voice their concerns. If you want to influence their behavior, you need to make the process convenient and suited to their needs.

Tips to Help You Write Non-Retaliation Policies

Constructing non-retaliation policies requires more scrutiny and care than most other forms of company policies.

It’s absolutely critical that these policies communicate the right message to employers and employees. This is not only to encourage ideal practices and company culture but to avoid lawsuits and disputes that may hinge on specific details regarding how your policies are written.

Make sure to keep these key tips in mind when constructing non-retaliation policies for your organization:

  • Make them concise and clear. Your policies need to be extremely clear for both practical and legal reasons.

    Most employees typically aren’t aware of many of their company’s policies. For this reason, you need to make sure your non-retaliation policies are extremely plain, well-known, and easy to understand.

    It’s practical that these policies are widely understood, as their main purpose is to shape company culture and the way in which staff and supervisors interact.

    In the event that a supervisor retaliates against an employee, you also want to be able to demonstrate that your organization has clearly condemned such behavior.

  • Include all non-retaliation policies in the employee handbook. Make sure that employees can easily reference your non-retaliation policies whenever they wish.

  • Consult a lawyer. There are too many fine legal nuances in the dos and don’ts of constructing company policies to list here.

    Consider all our advice, but make sure that you still employ a legal expert to guide you through the process.

  • Provide mandatory training to supervisors. A single manager being unaware of company policies and retaliating against an employee could seriously damage your company’s reputation.

    Make sure that each supervisor understands the behavior that’s expected out of them.

  • Properly document any retaliatory behavior. If a manager breaks your company’s policies, you need to thoroughly document how you disciplined them and attempted to fix the situation.

    Such documentation will be important in court if you need to prove the discrepancy between this one supervisor’s behavior and your organization’s values.

Sample Non-Retaliation Policy

Use this sample as a starting point for drafting your organization’s non-retaliation policies. Make sure not to simply rephrase what we’ve written, but instead use it as a structural reference for your original document.

Workplace Non-Retaliation Policy

Policy brief and purpose

This non-retaliation company policy covers our provisions regarding employees who file reports for discriminatory, ethical, or otherwise harmful behaviors. Whether or not allegations are true, our company wants to prevent victimization or any other kind of retaliation towards the employee.

We believe that it’s critical for employees to feel comfortable and unafraid to voice their concerns. A culture of fear can only be harmful to all parties in the long run.

We grant employees the total right to speak about misconduct and vow to follow all legal prohibitions for retaliation. In all cases, we will make an effort to preserve legality and business ethics.


Our policy applies to all future, current, and former employees of the company.

Policy elements

Actions that often lead to retaliation include but are not limited to:

  • Requests for parental leave

  • Lawsuits for termination for cause or wrongful dismissal

  • Complaints of company actions that harm society or the environment

  • Complaints of workplace discrimination or harassment

  • Participation in pending investigations of violations or misconduct

Employees may speak to parties to take legal action against the alleged guilty party. They may also file internal complaints to a supervisor or the Human Resources Department. These employees are referred to as “Whistleblowers.”

In any case, we vow to follow our anti-harassment workplace principles. Any employee who reports violations or misconduct will be shielded from retaliation. We don’t wish to silence complaints but instead encourage open communication in accordance with our open-door policy.

Final Thoughts

Employees maintain the right to communicate concerns, suggestions, or problems to any supervisor. We will treat all complaints as completely confidential.

If an employee files a complaint against another employee, we will consider it seriously and investigate thoroughly. If immediate action is necessary (such as in cases of harassment), we will ensure that the employee who filed a complaint will not be negatively affected in any way.

Employees who file complaints may be subject to disciplinary procedures due to an unrelated offense. In these cases, we will provide official documentation that states the reason for disciplinary actions against the employee. We will also provide evidence of their misconduct.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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