Retaliation against reporters of unequal treatment: Failing employee protection in The Netherlands

Jorgen S. Svensson, M.L. van Genugten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – Equal treatment in the workplace is considered one of the most fundamental rights of employees. This right also implies that employees must be able to address any form of unequal treatment freely and effectively, without fear of retaliation. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the prevalence of retaliation against complaints of unequal treatment in The Netherlands and its underlying factors. Design/methodology/approach – This article is based on a telephone survey among employees who filed a formal complaint about unequal treatment at work to the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission. Findings – The main finding is that retaliation against equal treatment reports is commonplace in The Netherlands and in many cases takes on serious forms. Furthermore it is found that the nature and extent of retaliation are primarily explained by the circumstances in which unequal treatment develops and that the extent of retaliation is neither explained by the manner in which unequal treatment is addressed nor by the level of institutionalized protection that is available. Originality/value – The need for a better understanding of retaliation is high, because retaliation and fear of retaliation have broad consequences for the psychological and physical well-being of individual employees and for employment relationships. Yet, studies on retaliation in the context of employment discrimination are rare, especially outside the USA. This article contributes to a better understanding of retaliation, which may be used by policy makers, employees and employers to address it more effectively
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-143
JournalEquality, diversity and inclusion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • IR-85704
  • METIS-295959


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