Five Facts About Retaliation

posted by Charles Joseph  |  Jun 3, 2020 12:45 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Employers cannot retaliate against employees who act as whistleblowers, file a complaint about an employment violation, or engage in other legally protected activities.

But what is retaliation? And what meets the legal definition of retaliation? Here are five facts about retaliation protections. 

1. Reporting Employment Violations Is A Protected Activity

If you report your employer for certain violations, including discrimination, wage theft, or sexual harassment, retaliation laws protect you. Employees who act as a whistleblower also receive retaliation protections under the law.

Employers cannot fire someone for filing an HR complaint about age discrimination, reporting sexual harassment, or blowing the whistle on illegal activities. Retaliation laws protect workers from retaliation.

2. There Are Many Legally Protected Activities

Employment laws protect employees from retaliation when they engage in a legally protected activity. There are many legally protected activities, including: 

  • Filing a complaint about harassment or discrimination
  • Acting as a witness in an investigation
  • Answering questions during an internal investigation
  • Refusing to follow discriminatory orders
  • Acting as a whistleblower

Employers cannot retaliate against employees for engaging in these and other protected activities.

3. Retaliation Laws Don't Just Protect The Victims Of Employment Violations

Who do retaliation laws protect? Some people assume that only the victims of employment violations receive retaliation protections.

However, retaliation laws don't only protect victims of discrimination, wage theft, or harassment. Retaliation laws also protect anyone who participates in an employment investigation.

For example, witnesses in a discrimination hearing also receive retaliation protections. So do employees who answer questions during an internal investigation.

4. Retaliation Laws Protect You Even If A Court Finds No Violation

Retaliation laws cover people who report employment violations. But what if a court rules the employment violation never took place? 

Consider, for example, an employee who filed an EEOC complaint about racial discrimination. The EEOC investigates and finds no grounds for discrimination. Can the company fire the employee? 

If the employee had a good-faith belief that discrimination took place, retaliation laws apply – even if an investigation does not find discrimination.

5. You Can Sue Your Employer For Retaliation

Employees can sue their employer for retaliation. If you report discrimination, act as a witness in an EEOC investigation, or report corporate wrongdoing, your employer cannot retaliate against you. 

Employees may lose their jobs, face demotions, or experience other negative employment consequences as a form of retaliation. If you experience retaliation in the workplace, you can file a lawsuit against your employer. 

A workplace retaliation lawyer can help victims of retaliation determine whether they have a case.

You can also read more about your employment rights:

New York workplace retaliation laws

Workplace discrimination laws and protections

Whistleblower protections in New York

The process of filing an EEOC complaint


What is Retaliation?

What is a Hostile Work Environment?

What is Discrimination?

Charles Joseph has over two decades of experience in employment law. He is the founder of Working Now and Then and the founding partner of Joseph and Kirschenbaum, a firm that has recovered over $140 million for clients.

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