Retaliation can occur in the workplace when employees are punished by their employer for exercising their legal rights or participating in a lawful activity. In New York, workplace retaliation is against the law. It is illegal for the employer to retaliate against employees for reporting or filing a discrimination claim or sexual harassment claim, participating in an investigation or lawsuit regarding a claim or reporting the employer’s illegal activity.
Retaliation can happen in several aspects of employment including hiring, firing and layoffs, pay and benefits, job assignments, promotions, training and others.
It may not always be immediately apparent to the employee that he or she is being retaliated against. However, there are some general examples of when retaliation can occur.
If an employee makes a complaint to the employer about a co-worker sexually harassing him or her and is then transferred to a less desirable shift, that may be retaliation. This may be true even if the employee’s benefits, pay and title do not change.
If an employee reports the employer for unlawfully failing to pay minimum wage or overtime, for example, and is then fired, has their job duties reduced or is demoted, that may also be retaliation. In addition, if an employee has received positive performance reviews, then reported an issue and is demoted that may be retaliation.
Employees should know that they have a right to be free from retaliation in the workplace. An experienced attorney can review the circumstances, provide representation and answer employees’ questions about the next steps to address it under the law.