Recognizing Retaliation in the Workplace and How to Fight Back
Employees sometimes take actions that upset their employers. In many cases, these actions are within the employees’ rights, such as the right to seek reasonable accommodation for a disability, the right to file a discrimination claim, and the right to join or start a labor union. These rights are protected by various state and federal laws. Another protected right is the right to work in an environment free from fear of retaliation from one’s employer.
Retaliation is an action taken by an employer meant to “punish” the employee for his or her behavior by creating a hostile work environment. Retaliation actions can include any of the following:
- Demoting an employee or refusing to promote him or her;
- Terminating an employee;
- Laying off the employee despite his or her seniority;
- Harassing the employee at work or allowing him or her to become a target of harassment;
- Excluding the employee from meetings, projects, and communication;
- Providing the employee with austere work conditions in an effort to encourage him or her to resign; and
- Poor performance reviews.
Determining if your Employer’s Actions were Acts of Retaliation
Your employer has the right to terminate you under most circumstances. Firing you as an act of retaliation is not one of these circumstances. But how can you tell if your employer’s action, whether it was an act of termination or another one of the acts listed above, was an act of retaliation?
The answer is simple: did the termination or changed behavior begin after you engaged in an action that the employer viewed negatively?
How Can I Prove that I was a Victim of Retaliation?
Although making the connection between your actions and an act of retaliation can be simple, you cannot allege that you were a retaliation victim without evidence to back up your claim. When you are at work, document everything. Meeting notes, emails, conversations, and any instances that you perceive to be related to your previous actions should all be documented and kept in a folder as evidence to support your retaliation claim.
You also need evidence to demonstrate that you took an action to cause the retaliation. Certain actions are known as protected activities, which means that you have the right to take them without fear of retaliation from your employer. These include filing discrimination claims, engaging in union activity, and seeking reasonable accommodations. Any activity that disrupts the company’s ability to operate or affects other employees in a negative manner is not a protected activity. For example, picketing outside your company’s building is a protected activity, but picketing inside the office is not.
Work with an Experienced New York Workplace Retaliation Lawyer
If you think that your termination or treatment at work was an act of retaliation, consider working with an experienced employment lawyer to determine the best course of action for your case. Workplace retaliation is never acceptable and our team at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can help you seek compensation for your damages stemming from the retaliation you experienced. Contact our office today to schedule your initial legal consultation with one of the hostile work environment lawyers at our firm.