According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, retaliation is one of the top complaints of New Jersey employees. Often, retaliation goes along with other employee complaints like sexual harassment or a variety of discrimination claims.
What is retaliation?
Retaliation happens when an employer acts adversely against an employee after that employee has revealed company misdeeds or exercised their rights in the workplace. This can include alerting the proper authorities of workplace discrimination and harassment.
Many times, retaliation includes the company terminating the employee, but it can also present as:
- Transferring an employee to unfavorable shifts or assignments
- Constructing a work environment that encourages an employee to resign
- Denying a promotion or demoting an employee
- Giving an employee bad reviews or unnecessarily disciplining the employee
What you can do if you suspect retaliation
Employees who face retaliation in the workplace should consider seeking legal advice, especially if they are faced with potential wrongful termination. Employees may be fired for any legal reasons in states where employment is at will, but retaliation is not a legal reason for termination.
There are legal and protected actions that an employer has at the workplace, such as speaking to another employee about pay or work conditions, resisting sexual advances, rebuking discriminatory practices, filing a complaint about a fellow employee, testifying or complaining about a coworker’s discriminatory actions, and reporting harassment to a superior. These activities should never be punished with retaliation of any sort.
The burden of proving retaliation lies with the employee. If the employee was fired within days or weeks after filing a complaint, retaliation is often assumed to be connected to the complaint filing. An experienced wrongful termination attorney may be able to help prove an employee’s case.