Fear Factory: Retaliation and Rights Claiming in Alberta, Canada

Jason Foster, Bob Barnetson, Jared Matsunaga-Turnbull

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Fear of retaliation poses a significant barrier to workers exercising their employment rights and claiming statutory benefits. This study of 2000 workers in the western Canadian province of Alberta found modest overall levels of worker fear (16%) of retaliation. Much higher fear levels (>40%) are reported in the most dangerous workplaces. Fear levels also escalated as the exercise of rights became more active, concrete, and potentially costly and disruptive for the employer. Workers who did not claim workers’ compensation benefits or refuse unsafe work flagged fear of retaliation as a significant factor. These findings raise serious questions about the effectiveness of making workers primarily responsible for triggering the enforcement of employment rights.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr. 2018


  • Alberta
  • Canada
  • employment rights
  • fear
  • retaliation


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