Retaliation is among the most common forms of employer misconduct. An employee reports sexual harassment, or fraud or racial discrimination and finds herself or himself fired or facing other negative consequences at work. An employee chooses to exercise the right to family medical leave and finds the position terminated in the interim. A worker files a claim for a workplace injury and is let go for missing work. Employers can fire workers for a wide variety of reasons, but they cannot retaliate against workers who choose to exercise their rights. An employee who has been the victim of retaliation should consider filing a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, many employers are adept at hiding retaliation under the guise of perfectly legal employment practices. Most employers are aware that they cannot fire a woman for getting pregnant. These employers will likely say they are cutting back, or claim the firing was based on performance or another valid justification. It is important to understand just what retaliation looks like so you know how and when to fight back.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently published new guidelines to address workplace retaliation. The EEOC provides examples of retaliation and helps workers understand the remedies available to them. These guidelines are a place to start for workers who believe their rights have been violated. The EEOC release naturally only scratches the surface of all the scenarios under which employees are victimized by their employers. For those who are uncertain, or who firmly believe they have been retaliated against, it is important to speak to an attorney sooner rather than later.
When an employer takes any action against you for exercising your rights, you have been wronged. You have a right to proper wages, including overtime. You have the right to take leave under the FMLA or NJFLA. You have the right to be free from harassment or discrimination at work. You have the right to file worker’s compensation claims when you have been injured. The law protects these rights and is there to help workers who have been targeted by vengeful employers.
Source: EEOC, “EEOC Issues Final Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues after Public Input Process” 29 August 2016