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NYC Employment Lawyer > Blog > Employment Discrimination > What is workplace retaliation?

What is workplace retaliation?

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When an employee complains about poor conditions, or provides information to an agency looking to protect workers, it would be nice if an employer accepted the feedback and learned from it. However, it is all too common for employers to react vindictively, retaliating against the employee who has complained via pay cuts, demotions, or even termination. If you believe that you have been retaliated against after making a complaint or cooperating in an investigation, New York law may allow you to file suit against your employer.

Unlawful Against Protected Activity

Retaliation is unlawful under federal and state regulations, as well as under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL). It is generally defined as an adverse employment action that can be directly linked to an employee’s protected activities. Protected activity can be an individual complaint of discrimination, or it can also be providing information to a government agency (serving as a whistleblower).

Some laws get more specific, and some simply cover as broad a spectrum as possible – for example, the NYCHRL simply states that it is against the law to retaliate against an employee for “making a charge or filing a complaint” with any relevant body such as your Human Resources department or the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Depending on your specific situation and location, it is a good idea to investigate whether federal, state, or city law will give you the most protection.

Link Protected Activity To Negative Results

In order to establish that your employer retaliated against you, you must be able to establish that you were engaged in protected activity, and that it was directly because of that protected activity that your employer took negative action against you. Very often, an employer will try to argue that you were disciplined due to some other reason – for example, lateness or poor performance – but if you have documented a pattern of mistreatment, you can hopefully counteract such allegations.

Defining protected activity is sometimes difficult, but it is crucial to both define it and link it to your negative employment experience. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) specifies that participating in the ‘complaint process’ is protected from retaliation “under all circumstances,” but also lists several other examples, such as refusing to follow orders to carry out discriminatory policies, refusing someone’s sexual advances, or requesting disability accommodations. You have certain rights in the workplace that cannot be abridged without consequences.

Call A New York City Employment Discrimination Attorney

Doing the right thing at work should not result in negative employment action. If it has for you, consulting an experienced New York City employment discrimination attorney from Mansell Law, LLC is a good idea. We are ready and willing to help answer your questions about what your options may be in seeking redress. Call our offices today at 646-921-8900 for a free consultation.

Resources:

eeoc.gov/retaliation

nyc.gov/site/cchr/law/retaliation.page

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