Retaliation After a Complaint of Discrimination
For many employees, it is difficult to exercise the right to complain about illegal discrimination. Federal, state, and local laws recognize how challenging and frightening it can be to complain to your employer or about your employer even if you are in the right. It is illegal under multiple laws for a New York employer to retaliate against you if you complain of discrimination. The employment law lawyers at Phillips & Associates can advocate on your behalf if you are subject to illegal retaliation.What Employer Actions Are Considered Retaliation?
Multiple federal laws recognize the importance of eliminating discrimination on the basis of race, gender, pregnancy, age, national origin, disability, religion, or sexual orientation. Many laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, only protect against discrimination in companies of a certain size. However, New York state and local laws were enacted to provide broader protections. All of these laws recognize that because employers hold significant power over their employees, employees may be reluctant to complain about discrimination and exercise their rights.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employee has the right to be free from discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, pregnancy, and religious belief. An individual can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or file a lawsuit to exercise his or her rights under Title VII. However, retaliation occurs whenever an individual engages in any protected activity and the employer takes an adverse action.
Protected activities under Title VII include opposing discrimination in the workplace against oneself or another person. "Adverse actions" under federal laws include any material change in employment. This includes firing an employee, demoting an employee, denying an employee a pay raise or benefits, and refusing to promote an employee. It can be difficult to prove that the employer retaliated if the employer claims it acted for business reasons.
New York state law mostly mirrors Title VII but protects a slightly broader range of categories than federal law does. New York City has enacted a Human Rights Act, which is considered one of the broadest and most liberally interpreted anti-discrimination laws in the country. Under this law, an employer's adverse actions need not make a material change in an employee's term of employment in order to be considered retaliation.
Most employers do not admit immediately that they retaliated against an employee for complaining about discrimination. Often, an attorney will have to present evidence that other employees with similar work histories were not treated the same way. If you believe you are being discriminated against, you should keep all documentation associated with your employer's conduct. Maintaining a paper trail can prove to be helpful if your employer retaliates.Enlist a New York Attorney for Your Discrimination Complaint
New York retaliation cases can be complex and difficult to prove. It is advisable to retain experienced counsel to make sure that you protect your rights, regarding both the discrimination itself and any retaliation that results from complaining about it. The employment discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates are ready to help you hold a New York employer accountable for its unlawful conduct. Contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form.