Do you know there are laws in place to protect employees from discrimination and harassment in the workplace? While many people may be aware of such laws, many are not as familiar with laws that protect employees from retaliation by an employer for engaging in a legally protected activity. We will talk more about workplace retaliation and legal protections against it here.
What is Considered to Be Workplace Retaliation?
Workplace retaliation, legally speaking, refers to employers punishing employees for engaging in a legally protected activity. What could this punishment refer to? Potentially, this refers to any adverse employment action. Adverse employment could include:
- Reassignment to unfavorable tasks
- Loss of benefits
- Salary reduction
- Unwanted shift changes
Some adverse employment actions may not be so overt as those listed above. In some cases, an employee may not even notice that the adverse employment action is actually occurring right away. For instance, an employer may take small actions to foster a stressful working environment for the employee such as given an unprompted negative performance review or excluding the employee from workplace outings and meetings.
There are both state and federal laws in place that protect an employee from such adverse employment actions because the employee engaged in a legally protected activity. New Jersey’s Anti-Retaliation law provides such protection. In order to receive protection under this law, an employee must be able to first prove that he or she engaged in protected activity. A protected activity can include opposing unlawful acts or practices in the workplace. The Law Against Discrimination will dictate what is consider unlawful acts or practices in the workplace, such as incidences of discrimination or sexual harassment. Furthermore, it can include participating in a Law Against Discrimination Proceeding. Participation could include filing a complaint or testifying as well as assisting the proceeding in other ways.
Federal law will provide protection to an employee who seeks to bring a complaint against unlawful employment actions or occurrences either internally to the employer or human resources or externally to someplace such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This protection to all who file such claims provided the complaint is made in good faith. If this is the case, the protection remains even if the claim turns out to be unfounded.
Should you believe that you are the victim of workplace retaliation, an attempt should be made to give your employer a chance to remedy the situation. If your employer does not remedy the situation, then you may wish to proceed in filing a complaint. If this is the case, however, you will need to be able to show a correlation between the filing of your complaint, or other protected behavior you engaged in which you believe to have been the cause of the retaliatory behavior, and the adverse employment action. To show such a correlation, you should gather and preserve as much evidence as possible. Document the retaliatory action and maintain historical information that could show a switch in how you were treated before and after you filed the complaint.
Employment Law Attorneys
Do you think you have suffered workplace retaliation? Know your rights. Do not hesitate to reach out to the knowledgeable employment law attorneys at Castronovo & McKinney. Contact us today.