Employers often have the right to take adverse actions against employees, which may include disciplinary action for misconduct, denial of a raise due to lack of productivity, or even termination under New York's at-will employment laws. However, employers may not take adverse action for reasons that violate employment laws, which includes unlawful retaliation against employees.
You are likely aware that federal and state employment laws protect employees from discrimination and harassment based on certain factors, including race, sex, religion, disability, age, and more. New York City anti-discrimination laws also protect employees based on their sexual orientation, marital status, or citizenship status.
However, many people do not realize that these same laws also protect employees from unlawful retaliation. Many people also may not recognize when retaliation occurs or may not realize they have legal rights in these situations.
To protect yourself, read on to learn what unlawful retaliation can look like. If you have questions about your specific situation, do not hesitate to contact an experienced New York City employment attorney for help.
What Constitutes Retaliation?
Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee in response to the employee exercising lawful rights regarding discrimination or harassment. Such rights include:
- Rejecting the unwanted sexual advances of a supervisor
- Complaining about suspected discrimination or harassment to a supervisor or human resources department
- Cooperating with investigations regarding possible discrimination or harassment
- Serving as a witness in either internal investigations or investigations by the New York City Human Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Sometimes, an employer will feel angry about such complaints or the cooperation of an employee and may take unlawful adverse actions against them.
Other laws also contain anti-retaliation protections that do not necessarily involve discrimination or harassment. These protections can include:
- Requesting or taking valid family and medical leave
- Filing a workers' compensation claim in good faith
- Reporting health and safety violations
- Reporting other violations of the law or unethical conduct of an employer
- Refusing to engage in illegal activity
- Complaining about wage and hour violations
Most people think that retaliation only includes termination, though any action in retaliation against lawful activity can constitute an illegal adverse action. Some examples of what retaliation can look like include:
- You get transferred to a less desirable work location or receive less desirable work schedules
- You receive a decrease in your hours
- Your supervisor fabricates performance issues to deny you a raise, promotion, or bonus
- You are harassed or intimidated at work
- You are demoted or lose authority
- You are terminated from you position
Employers will often try to justify adverse actions by citing pretextual reasons. If you have recently filed a complaint, report, or claim, or exercised another employment right, discuss the possibility that your employer illegally retaliated against you with an attorney.
Discuss Your Situation With a New York City Employment Lawyer
Braverman Law PC stands up for your rights to compensation and legal relief after unlawful employment actions. To schedule a case evaluation, please call (212) 206-8166 or contact attorney Adam Braverman online as soon as possible.