I Complained of Discrimination and Got Fired. What Should I Do?

Our society values a workplace free from discrimination. Whether on the basis of race, gender, national origin, disability, religion, or sexual orientation, discrimination at work is illegal in New York City. Further, firing an employee because he or she complained of discrimination is also illegal. The New York employment discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates have a profound understanding of the laws that protect people from discrimination. If you have been illegally fired because you complained of discrimination, contact us to speak with a lawyer.

You Cannot be Fired for Complaining of Discrimination

Discrimination on the basis of certain personal characteristics is illegal. Employers may not make employment decisions — such as whether to hire a potential employee, fire an employee, or give an employee a raise — on the basis of gender, race, religion, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation.

The same laws that prohibit discrimination also prohibit retaliation, which is an adverse action taken by the employer against an employee because of the employee’s participation in a protected act. In short, this means that an employer cannot legally fire you because you complained of illegal discrimination — this is a form of retaliation called wrongful termination. In fact, it is illegal for an employer to take any adverse action against you, such as lowering your pay, denying a promotion, or taking any other action that affects the terms of your employment based on your protected activity.

Know Which Laws Protect You

There are several laws that protect you from unlawful discrimination at work. Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, and a number of other personal traits. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on mental or physical disability. In addition to the rights protected by federal laws, the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws protect you from harassment based on sexual orientation.

All of these laws also prohibit retaliation against employees who have engaged in a protected act. A protected act is any act an employee is allowed to do, such as making a formal complaint of discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). To prevail in court, the employee will also have to prove a causal connection between the protected act and the retaliation. Generally, the New York laws, both state and city, offer better protection because the definition of a retaliatory act in these laws is broader than in the federal laws.

Record All Incidents of Discrimination and Your Termination

Although it is illegal, your employer might have fired you upon learning that filed an (EEOC) complaint. Be sure to document your employer’s actions and the reasons she gave for the retaliatory act, whether firing or something else. This will become important evidence when you and your attorney have to establish the causal connection between your protected right (filing the EEOC complaint) and the adverse action (your termination).

Experienced Advocates for Employees

You do not have to tolerate being fired or treated improperly for asserting your rights. By discriminating against and then firing an employee, employers have broken the law twice. If your employer has retaliated against you on the basis of a protected activity, contact an experienced New York wrongful termination lawyer. Phillips & Associates has significant experience helping New Yorkers with problems at work, so call (212) 248-7431 or contact us online today.

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