What is Workplace Retaliation?
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.
Experienced NJ Workplace Retaliation Lawyers Fighting Employment Discrimination
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).
The experienced lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. are committed to helping clients report workplace retaliation when an employee makes a complaint about discrimination. Our team knows how difficult it is to report this, and we work diligently to claim justice and collect the compensation our clients are entitled to under the law, while protecting the right of whistleblowers in New Jersey.
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 the 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, which only occurred after you reported 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.
Signs of Workplace Retaliation
Common activities that may incite workplace retaliation include:
- Refusing to commit illegal acts despite your employer’s direction or request to do so
- Requesting a leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Whistleblowing against your employer due to illegal or fraudulent practices
- Complaining to your employer about workplace discrimination or harassment
If due to one or more of these situations, you experienced undue consequences or noticed other signs of retaliation, you may have grounds for a legal retaliation claim.
It is important to understand the signs of retaliation, so the individual can be prepared to file a claim. Some signs of retaliation include:
- Demotion – Losing a particular status or senior position privileges, or being assigned a lower-ranked position
- Termination – being fired from your position
- Salary reduction/ Loss of hours – receiving a pay deduction or shortened hours
- Exclusion – intentionally being kept out of employee meetings, trainings, or any other activities made available to other employees
- Reassignment – being reassigned to another task in a way that causes undue hardship
Facts About Workplace Retaliation
The EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) laws prohibit retaliation against employees who speak out against employment discrimination. Asserting these EEO rights is called “protected activity” and it can be relevant in many ways. It is unlawful to retaliate against employees for:
- Filing or being a witness in an EEO charge, complaint, or lawsuit
- Communicating with a supervisor about employment discrimination, which includes harassment
- Answering questions during an employment investigation of alleged harassment
- Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
- Resisting sexual advances or getting involved to protect others
- Requesting accommodation for a disability or for a religious practice
When someone participates during the complaint process, it is protected from retaliation. Other acts to oppose discrimination are protected as long as the employee was acting on a reasonable belief that something in the workplace was violating the EEO laws.
Legal Counsel Is Imperative To A Successful Outcome
If you believe your employer is punishing or retaliating 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 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.
Our New Jersey Workplace Retaliation Lawyers Can Help You
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 those at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. will ensure that your legal rights are protected. An experienced attorney can help you create a record and collect evidence to support your claim. Our attorneys will also be able to develop the best legal strategy available and advocate for compensation for damages.