Employment laws can be quite complex and, at times, contradictory. This is especially true because New York, like other states, is an at-will employment state. This means that your employer can terminate your employment contract for whatever reason, provided that the reason in question reason is lawful.
As an employee, state and federal laws allow you to participate in lawful activities without the fear of retribution. However, workplace retaliation is not uncommon. If your employer retaliates against you, then you deserve justice.
But first, what is workplace retaliation?
Basically, retaliation at work happens when an employer punishes you for participating in a legally protected activity. Retaliation can be any detrimental action such as wage reduction, transfer and reassignment or, in extreme cases, a dismissal.
Sometimes, the retaliatory action can be clearly identifiable, such as a dismissal. Sometimes, however, it can be subtle. For instance, a transfer may not be objectionable. However, if it is intended to frustrate you into quitting your job, then it could be retaliatory.
Basically, any employer action that is detrimental to an employee after participating in a protective activity like whistleblowing or cooperating with a government agency during an investigation might be considered retaliation.
So, what should you do if you are being retaliated against?
Here are some of the steps you may take following workplace retaliation:
Talk to your supervisor or the HR department – Approach your supervisor or the HR department for an explanation for the negative action in question. After all, there might be a justified explanation for your transfer or demotion.
File your complaint with EEOC – If your employer is neither willing to address your concern or even admit that there is a problem in the first place, then you may have no choice but to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Protecting your rights
Workplace retaliation is illegal. Understanding both federal and New York labor laws can help you protect your rights while fighting against workplace retaliation.