Workplace Retaliation Claims
An adverse action by an employer is an act or omission which is hostile or causes harm to an employee’s interests. Workplace retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for disclosing discrimination, harassment, or any other unlawful activity in the workplace. It can also occur when an employer takes an adverse action against an employee in response to an employee participating in an investigation into unlawful activity in the workplace or even taking advantage of certain rights afforded to each employee. Common examples of adverse actions include, being subjected to a hostile work environment, demotion, failure to promote, lowering pay, reducing hours, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, in some cases changing an employee’s schedule, and of course suspension or termination. The lawyers at Mashel Law will fight to vindicate your rights when you have suffered unlawful retaliation at the hands of your employer.
There are several types of retaliation in the workplace. The following is a list of a few:
- Whistleblower Retaliation: A plaintiff who pursues a CEPA claim need not show that his or her employer or another employee actually violated the law or a clear mandate of public policy. Dzwonar v. McDevitt, 177 N.J. 451, 462 (2003). Instead, the plaintiff simply must show that she "reasonably believes" that to be the case. Id. The plaintiff merely must set forth facts that would support an objectively reasonable belief that a violation has occurred. Id. at 464. This is because the goal of CEPA, is "not to make lawyers out of conscientious employees but rather to prevent retaliation against those employees who object to employer conduct that they reasonably believe to be unlawful or indisputably dangerous to the public health, safety or welfare." Mehlman v. Mobil Oil Corp., 153 N.J. 163, 193-94 (1998)..
- LAD (New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination) Retaliation: The express language of the LAD states that it is unlawful “for any person to take reprisals against any person because that person has opposed any practices or acts forbidden … [by the LAD].” N.J.S.A. § 10:5-12(d). LAD also provides that it is unlawful for an employer “to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of that person having aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or protected by this act.” Id. An employer takes adverse employment action against an employee for complaining of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Under LAD “the Legislature intended victims of discrimination to obtain redress from mental anguish, embarrassment and the like, without limitation to severe emotional or physical ailments.”
- FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and NJFLA (New Jersey Family Leave Act) Retaliation: Employer cannot interfere with or retaliate against an employee who seeks the benefits of FMLA or NJFLA leave.
- Worker’s Compensation Retaliation: Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, it is “unlawful for any employer…to discharge or in any other manner discriminate against an employee as to his employment because such employee has claimed or attempted to claim workmen's compensation benefits from such employer…” An employee who suffers retaliation for pursuing workers compensation benefits may file a civil action in the Superior Court and seek compensatory and punitive damages similar to a tort action.
- Other: Employer retaliates against an employee who participates in an investigation into any of the above.
Let’s be clear about one thing: employers cannot deter employees from making complaints about discrimination or unlawful activity by the employer or from participating in an investigation into unlawful acts taking place at the workplace. If you feel you are or have been the victim of workplace retaliation, do not hesitate to call (732) 536-6161 the attorneys at Mashel Law or fill out the contact form on this page and let our experience work for you. Mashel Law is located in Marlboro, NJ and is dedicated to protecting the rights of employees.