New Jersey state and federal laws exist to protect individuals against retaliatory acts by their employer for reporting discriminatory or illegal practices, or when exercising their right to participate in a protected activity. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Civil Rights Act (NJCRA), The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) all protect employees from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.
It is unlawful for any employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of race, sex, gender identification, religion, national origin, age, or pregnancy. An employer that violates these laws and then retaliates against an employee that reports such activity can be held accountable at the state and federal levels. Demotion, termination, transfer, reduction in salary, disciplinary actions, harassment, and bullying are all forms of unlawful retaliation. These types of actions are also illegal when they are taken against an employee who has exercised their legal right to participate in a protected activity such as taking family medical leave, pregnancy leave, or seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
When Retaliation Occurs
It is the employee’s burden of proof to demonstrate that retaliation has occurred. As a result, documenting ongoing retaliation and filing detailed written complaints to human resources is often key to a successful retaliation case. Positive performance evaluations, emails, messages, and accolades received during the course of your employment can help to show the change in your employer’s behavior that occurred after you reported their unlawful behavior. The more documentation you can provide, the better your chances are for a successful outcome.
As with many legal cases, timing is everything. In retaliation cases, both New Jersey and federal law require an analysis of the “temporal proximity” between the “protective activity,” such as an internal complaint of discrimination, and the retaliation employment action, such as termination. For example, if you were terminated or demoted shortly after you reported some type of discriminatory action, or if you received a poor performance evaluation upon returning from a medical leave, the timing of the retaliation would support your claim.
Legal Consult is Imperative to a Successful Outcome
If you believe your employer is punishing or retaliation against you for your participation in reporting illegal or discriminatory behavior, you should contact an experienced attorney immediately. The attorney can assist you in loading a detailed complaint of the discrimination or illegal conduct to the company’s Human Resource department. If the company fails to address or remedy the situation, you can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before bringing a federal lawsuit, or file a complaint directly in the Superior Court of New Jersey.
In sum, it is always wise to consult with a qualified and reputable employment discrimination lawyer when you are pursuing a retaliation claim. Contacting knowledgeable and experienced employment attorneys like McOmber & McOmber will ensure that your legal rights are protected. An experienced attorney can help you create a record and collect evidence support your claim. The attorney will also be able to advise you about the best legal strategy available, and if any compensation for damages and back pay may also be available to you.