I Complained of Harassment and got Fired. Do I Need an Attorney?


New York City Lawyers for Wrongful Termination Claims

Workplace harassment is a term that covers a wide range of illegal, offensive behavior targeted at an individual on the basis of a protected characteristic of the individual. Protected characteristics include race, ethnicity, gender, pregnancy, age, religion, disability, and nationality. Harassment is prohibited under federal, state, and local laws. In order to bring a claim, the conduct must be severe and pervasive enough that a reasonable person would find the workplace an intimidating, hostile, or abusive environment. Although harassment is illegal, some employers respond to a complaint by retaliating against the employee with an adverse employment action, such as demotion or firing. If you complain of harassment and get fired or suffer another form of retaliation, the New York City wrongful termination attorneys at Phillips & Associates may be able to help you pursue compensation.

How an Attorney Can Help a Victim of Retaliation

If you are harassed in the workplace, it can be unbearable. You may consider quitting your job, and your work performance and morale may be severely undermined. You can take legal action against the harasser if you are being mistreated due to a protected characteristic. For example, protected characteristics under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 include race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. Title VII applies to employers that have 15 or more employees. Other laws may offer protection if your employer has fewer employees.

You may be legitimately concerned that an adverse action will be taken against you if you complain about harassment. By law, however, managers and supervisors cannot retaliate against you for complaining about harassment, opposing harassment, or participating in a harassment proceeding. Retaliation includes any sort of adverse employment action, such as firing, demotion, or docking pay.

Harassment and retaliation are sensitive claims from a factual perspective and can be complex. It is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible. Your employer may be liable for retaliation even if you were mistaken about having a valid harassment complaint. Generally, to prove retaliation under Title VII, you would need to show that your manager's actions would deter a reasonable person from opposing harassment and discrimination, or participating in the complaint process available at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Retaliation is established if it is shown to be more likely than not that a discretionary decision, such as firing you, was based on a retaliatory motive. The New York City Human Rights Law and the New York State Human Rights Law also protects employees against retaliation.

In most cases, a retaliatory motive can be established if the harassment allegations and the manager's decision to fire you are close in time. However, there are situations when a significant amount of time has passed between the alleged harassment and the retaliatory actions. Some relevant evidence could include verbal or written comments, evidence that another employee in a similar situation was treated differently, or evidence that the employer's claimed motivation is false. In some situations, the evidence comes from how a manager describes the discrimination allegations to other employees, such as claiming the charge is offensive or bad for morale. Employers are supposed to make sure that their employees understand that they have the right to make good-faith complaints. Unfortunately, the type of organization that fosters a climate of harassment is also more likely to have a manager who abuses his or her power to retaliate against a worker.

Consult a Wrongful Termination Attorney in New York City

The New York City wrongful termination lawyers at Phillips & Associates offer tenacious, knowledgeable representation to victims of their employers' abusive conduct. Call us at (866) 229-9441 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation. We represent victims of employment discrimination throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, long Island and Westchester.

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