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Payback Time

Thinking of striking back at an employee? Think twice.

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This story appears in the November 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courts around the country have argued for years over what constitutes retaliation in the workplace. Does an employee have to suffer drastic measures, such as a demotion or getting fired, before action can be called retaliation? Or can something that a "reasonable person" would see as unpleasant-say, transferring an employee to an undesirable location--constitute retaliation? Many courts have fallen somewhere in the middle.

"The law in that area was all over the place, from state to state and the federal courts," says Gregory Keating, an attorney in the office of Littler Mendelson.

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