New Jersey Retaliation
Many workers who face discrimination on the job are reluctant to complain or follow the grievance procedure prescribed by their employment handbook because they are worried that they may be punished for doing so.
Retaliation does happen. However, the federal anti-discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as well as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) include prohibitions against retaliation.
If you are subject to retaliation for complaining about discrimination or assisting someone else who has reported discrimination, you may be able to recover damages. At Phillips & Associates, our experienced New Jersey employment discrimination lawyers can assist you in determining whether you have a legal claim for retaliation and, if so, helping you pursue that claim.Federal and New Jersey Laws Prohibit Discrimination and Retaliation
Different laws protect membership in different classes. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination specifies that protected classes in the state include nationality, color, race, creed, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, age, ancestry, and gender identity or expression.
- Title VII, which applies to employers who have at least 15 employees, protects race, national origin, color, sex, and religion.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects those with disabilities.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects those workers who are age 40 and up.
In addition to prohibiting discrimination and harassment, these laws also prohibit retaliation, so that employees do not fear that they will be demoted, terminated or otherwise subject to adverse actions, simply for bringing good faith complaints against their employer. The EEOC has reported that nearly half of the complaints filed in 2013 were actually retaliation complaints, and that retaliation is the most frequently claimed form of discrimination in the federal sector since 2008. Sometimes the original claim of discrimination fails, but the employee is still able to establish unlawful retaliation.
If you are subject to retaliation for filing an internal grievance, you will need to establish that you are a member of a protected class, that you were subject to an adverse action by your employer due to your membership and that you filed the internal grievance reasonably and in good faith relating to your protected class.
Suppose for example your supervisor touches you inappropriately at what you believe is a work-sponsored event. You complain to HR, but nobody responds in a timely manner to your complaint, and then your supervisor fires you for complaining. You may be able to establish retaliation. Even if it turns out that the inappropriate touching did not take place at a work environment, or is not considered severe enough to count as sexual harassment, you still should not have been retaliated against for filing a complaint with HR.Employers’ Defenses to Retaliation Claims
Employers can defend against retaliation claims if they can show that they would have taken the adverse action against you regardless of your grievance. Suppose, for example, you file a charge of pregnancy discrimination with the EEOC, and get a notice of layoffs. It may appear to you to be retaliation. However, if the company can prove that several months prior to your complaint the company decided to eliminate a particular product line, and your position was genuinely no longer necessary, it will be harder to establish retaliation.Consult Skilled New Jersey Employment Discrimination Attorneys
Timing, verbal or written statements, falsity of the reason given for an adverse employment action, an other factors may be used to evaluate your retaliation claim. The New Jersey sexual harassment attorneys of Phillips & Associates may be able to help you recover damages. Contact us at (609) 436-9087 or through our online system. We help clients in Passaic, Bergen, Morris, Essex, Union, Middlesex, Monmouth, Mercer, Hudson, Somerset, Burlington, and Camden Counties.
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