Protected Activity and Retaliation in New Jersey
Even though most people are aware that there are laws to protect employees from discrimination and harassment, many don’t know that these laws also protect employees from retaliation. Therefore, an employer cannot punish an employee for making a harassment or discrimination complaint or participating in an investigation at the workplace.
What is Employee Retaliation in NJ?
Retaliation only occurs when the employer punishes an employee for engaging in a legally protected activity. The retaliation can include any negative job action such as firing, demotion, discipline, salary reduction, shift or job reassignment.
However, retaliation in some cases can also be more subtle. In other words, cases where the employer’s actions cannot be easily classified as retaliation, the employee must consider the circumstance of the situation and seek legal guidance immediately.
A good example is a change in job shift that may not be objectionable to many employees. To some, this could be very detrimental as they are parents of young children and have a non flexible schedule.
Therefore, as long as the employer’s actions deter a reasonable person in the situation of making a complaint, then the employer’s action constitutes illegal retaliation.
Federal law protects the employees from retaliation whenever they file a complaint about workplace discrimination and harassment. The employees remain protected even if the claim turns out to be unfounded.
Employees who serve as witnesses in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigations or litigation, are also protected under the law. Federal laws protect other types of whistleblowers such as those who file complaints about unsafe working conditions.
Employer Retaliation in NJ
It is sometimes difficult to tell if your employer is retaliating against you. A good example is when you file a complaint about harassment behavior by your supervisor, which then leads to his attitude and demeanor changing toward you. If the change becomes more professional and isn’t as friendly as before, that isn’t retaliation. The changes can only be considered retaliatory if they have an adverse effect on your employment.
On the other hand, if you suffer from negative employment decisions such as firing and demotion after making a complaint, then you may have a case. The retaliatory act can also include unfair or poor performance review, sudden exclusion from staff meetings on a project you have been working on, or even the boss micromanaging everything you do.
Actions to Take When You Suspect Retaliation
In case you suspect retaliation against you by your employer, you can talk to the human resource manager of your organization about the reasons for the suspected negative actions. It is important to ask objective questions when you suspect retaliation behavior.
Your employer may have a perfectly reasonable explanation for their actions. For example, you may be moved to the night shift because there is an opening, or your poor performance review may be a result of documented issues you had been informed of prior to filing this complaint.
In the case where your employer can’t give a legitimate explanation, then you can voice your retaliation concerns. It is with no doubt that your employer will deny it. As a matter of fact, some employers have been known to retaliate even without realizing it.
At The Law Office of Benjamin Friedman, we help our clients file a retaliation claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or their state’s fair employment agency.
Building a Case of Retaliation
The Law Office of Benjamin Friedman takes pride in offering professional legal representation in retaliation cases in NJ. We try to show, with no reasonable doubts, the link between our client’s complaint and the employer’s retaliatory behavior.Contact our office today to seek legal advice for your case.