Workplace Retaliation Attorney

Workplace retaliation is the most commonly alleged basis of discrimination in the federal sector. Title Vii of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, other federal laws, state, and sometimes city laws govern claims of workplace retaliation. Because retaliation can occur in many contexts, it is a complex area of law, requiring extensive knowledge and experience on the part of your attorney. 

New York Workplace Retaliation Requirements 

In New York State, federal and state anti-retaliation rules apply to the workplace. In addition, the City of New York has its own anti-retaliation law covering employers and employees in the city.   

Federal Racial Discrimination in Employment Law 

The  federal agency which enforces federal law regarding retaliation against employees who take steps to end or prevent unlawful workplace conduct depends upon the statute under which the claim is made. Workplace retaliation can also be used against employees who engage in whistleblower activities or initiate or participate in investigations of employer misconduct. There is an extremely wide range of protected conduct under the rules against retaliation. Some of these include:

  • Requesting or taking paternity leave
  • Whistleblower actions
  • Reporting discrimination in the workplace
  • Reporting sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Expressing concerns about unpaid overtime, tips, or off-the-clock hours
  • Requesting a disability accommodation
  • Requesting a religious accommodation
  • Participating in a class action against an employer
  • Reporting safety violations
  • Taking Family Medical Leave

All of these constitute protected activities under anti-retaliation provisions of federal and state law. 

When Does Retaliation Happen

Retaliation can occur in any aspect of your employment. It can include:

  • Altering terms and conditions of employment
  • Hiring, firing, and being laid off
  • Changes in pay or benefits
  • Changes in job assignments
  • Denials of promotion or training

If any of these have happened to you and you believe it was in retaliation for some protected activity, you should contact an employment discrimination lawyer at an early opportunity. This attorney will help you to understand your claim and what remedies may be available to you. 

Structure of  Retaliation Claims 

Workplace retaliation occurs when an employee suffers an adverse employment action because he or she engaged in a protected activity. Adverse employment actions in the following types of conduct:

  • Demoting an employee without a noticeable performance issue
  • Firing an employee without an obvious performance issue
  • Denying an employee a promotion or raise without any apparent performance issue
  • Reducing an employee’s salary or benefits for no apparent reason
  • Changing the employee’s work schedule, location, or conditions for no apparent reason

Any of these may constitute retaliation for participation in protected activities. Any such adverse employment action is strictly prohibited in response to such activities. 

Workplace retaliation claims are often difficult to make successfully. In order to sustain a claim of workplace retaliation, you must prove that

  • You engaged in a protected activity
  • You suffered an adverse employment action and
  • The first caused the second

Common Retaliation Claims

One of the most extreme examples of workplace retaliation occurs when an employer fires, terminates, or demotes an employee who is engaging or has engaged in a protected activity. Even demoting that employee can constitute workplace retaliation.  

Often the retaliation may not seem to have happened until an exceptionally long time after t the employee engaged in the protected activity. However, that employee may have been constructively discharged if the employee’s work conditions have been made so intolerable by the employer that even a reasonable employee would quit. 

An employee can also retaliate by reducing salary or benefits. These reduced items can include

  • Wages or salary
  • Commission rates
  • Sick leave or paid time off
  • Family medical leave 
  • Overtime opportunities

Other adverse actions can include a change in work schedule such as mandatory weekend hours, shift changes, reducing or increasing shift lengths, or random changes in work schedules. Transfers and reassignments can also constitute retaliation. This is often used to show other employees what happens to those who engage in protected activities. Finally, denying a promotion or raise can also be used to retaliate against protected activities. Once again, this retaliation is often used to deter others from engaging in protected activity.

Document Your Case

The nature of your retaliation claim will tell you the kinds of documentation you need. In almost any case, however, you will need access to all of your employment records with the firm. Performance reviews are critical to document that there were no performance issues to support the adverse employment action. Also document any cases where other coworkers were not treated in the same manner as you for similar conduct. Since most of these records will not be easy for you to access, you should consider working with a knowledgeable employment discrimination attorney to assist you. 

Keep Communicating with Your Supervisors

No matter how badly things seem to be going, if you are still working at the firm, be sure to stay in communication with your employers. They may not be fully aware of the situation or may be trying to resolve the problem quietly. It may not be you who ends up leaving the company. 

Talk to HR

It is also helpful to stay in touch with Human Resources. HR staff understands the workplace retaliation rules. For this reason, they will probably at least listen to your story with some compassion and may even be able to explain to you why the company is taking the steps it is (or is not) taking regarding your claim. However, even if HR doesn’t give you either comfort or advice, your employment discrimination attorney will remind you that you must be able to show that you exhausted your in-house remedies before you made a claim. So, be sure to take any steps that your employee manual says you should take before making a formal claim. 

What Remedies Are Available to Me

Workplace retaliation is prohibited under at least five federal statutes and state and municipal laws as well. Therefore, the remedies available to you will depend upon the particular law under which you claim retaliation. In general, however, the potential remedies can include:

  • Back pay
  • Front pay
  • Hiring
  • Promotion
  • Reinstatement
  • Out of pocket damages to make you whole
  • Punitive damages

Most of these are intended to return you to where you would have been absent the retaliation. The last item is granted when an employer’s conduct has been pervasive or outrageous, and the court wishes to punish the employer or deter other employers’ 

Retain an Attorney as Soon as You Can

If you believe that you have been a victim of workplace retaliation, you should consult an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable attorney can help you understand whether you have a compensable claim and the remedies that may be available to you. He or she can also help you continue working and with preparing and maintaining necessary records. 

Call a New York Sexual Harassment Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation

To schedule your free consultation, call A.Y.G., PLLC, today at 646-201-8625 or contact us online.