When an employer punishes an employee for engaging in a legally protected activity, it may qualify as prohibited workplace retaliation. State and federal laws protect employees from employer retaliation when employees complain about workplace discrimination and harassment. These laws also protect employees who report violations of safety standards, law, or public policy.
Retaliation can take the form of a negative job review, demotion, change in job schedule, reassignment, transfer of job, or reduction in salary. Basically, any action that affects employment adversely can be considered retaliatory. To test whether an action would qualify as retaliation, one should consider if the given adverse action by the employer would prevent a reasonable person in a similar situation from complaining. However, it may not always be clear and obvious. Employers may take more subtle actions, such as micromanaging and criticizing everything an employee does or exclude the employee from meetings that are passive aggressive in nature.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: This federal agency oversees federal laws that prohibit punishment of employees for asserting their rights to be free from discrimination and harassment.
Family and Medical Leave Act: These laws protect employees from being retaliated against for taking a justified leave of absence.
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination: Retaliatory actions in response to complaints of discrimination are prohibited by this law; specific classes are protected.
New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act: Whistleblowers who complain about or refuse to take part in illegal activities or activities against public policy are protected under this law.
New Jersey Family Leave Act: These are state laws that also protect employees from being punished for taking leave for illness or other health conditions for oneself or a qualifying family member.
Americans with Disabilities Act: This law also protects those who are discriminated against for complaining about an illegal activity or for cooperating with an investigation.
The Fair Labor Standards Act: This Act makes it unlawful to discriminate or fire an employee for filing a complaint or for testifying.
Workers’ Compensation: State Workers’ Compensation laws also protect employees from being discriminated and retaliated against for seeking Workers Compensation benefits.
If retaliation is suspected, one should first notify their immediate management or human resource representative. If the employer cannot provide a legitimate explanation for their actions or correct the issue, the employee should take their concerns to an employment lawyer. To prove a case for retaliation, an employee should be able to show that the adverse action was taken by the employer after the employee complained.
This type of behavior may be proven by showing documents, such as email communications and employment assessments that were positive prior to the complaint. If after a complaint was made, the assessments became more negative in nature, that would be a case for retaliation. However, building a case to show retaliation can be very complicated and nebulous. It is highly recommended to seek legal counsel so that evidence is preserved and presented in a competent manner.
If retaliation is suspected, consult a lawyer immediately. The Long Branch employment lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. will ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the justice you deserve. Call us at 732-493-9400 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Eatontown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Mercer County, Asbury Park, Neptune, Long Branch, Keansburg, Ocean Township, Eatontown, Red Bank, Middletown, Colts Neck, Deal, Freehold, Holmdel, Jackson, Little Silver, Marlboro, and Rumson.