Workplace retaliation happens when an employee is punished for reporting dangerous, fraudulent, unethical, or illegal activity in the workplace. Employees cannot be demoted, fired, or otherwise punished for reporting such activities to superiors or other public parties.
All too often, discrimination, harassment, and what ends up being a hostile work environment, are the results of reporting these activities. Because employers are in a position of power, they can retaliate against employees who complain. However, just as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 determined the right for workers to be free from discrimination and harassment, it also protects employees who choose to stand up for their rights from retaliation by their employers. The protection also extends to those who are targeted by an employer for speaking out in support of a co-worker who has been discriminated against or harassed.
Under the law, retaliation is defined as an adverse action taken by an employer after an employee engages in a protected activity, such as opposing workplace discrimination. The retaliation can also occur as a result of whistleblowing (when an employee offers information regarding workplace misconduct or unethical behavior behind closed doors) or a complaint about unfair wage practices, or a possible labor law violation. There must be a direct connection between the protected activity and the adverse action, which can include demotion, refusing to promote, denying pay raises and other benefits, or wrongful termination.
Mark Mulick has years of experience representing clients who have been subject to workplace retaliation. He’s successfully represented clients in the following areas:
Plaintiff complained that a false set of books was kept to pass DEP inspections. He was subject to numerous ethnic slurs and then fired.
Plaintiff was employed as a crossing guard when a supervisor came to her apartment and masturbated against her protests. She was harassed when she reported the incident.
Plaintiff was a receptionist at a school. Her supervisor asked her to join him in a conference room and removed one of her breasts from her shirt. She was fired when she complained.
Although the legal standard is straightforward, proving an employer took adverse action in response to a protected activity is not always easy. If you believe you have been subject to retaliation by your employer, we can help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your interests in court.