Did the behavior of your boss towards you change after you complained about the office culture or became a whistle-blower? Is the behavior affecting your employment, and you don’t feel safe at the workplace? It could be a sign of retaliation in the workplace!
The State and Federal law promises protection to employees in states like New York, but retaliation still happens. Some surprising statistics from EEOC disclosed that roughly 60% of workplace discrimination complaints constituted retaliation.
While most employees think there’s no way to deal with retaliation, you’ve got rights. In this post, we’ll tell you what retaliation is and some signs you are being retaliated against. We have also explained what to do when your boss retaliates against you.
What is Retaliation?
According to Equal Employment Commission, retaliation means when your boss or someone with authority exercises their power or force against you or another employee with less power to affect their career or professional progress negatively.
It can include punishing employees when they assert their rights to be free from discrimination in the workplace, such as harassment. Retaliation also affects employees who are not directly affected but report incidents such as any type of harassment they’ve seen.
Mainly, workplace retaliation classifies into two types:
This type of retaliation is evident. For example, you get a demotion or pay cut because you filed a complaint against the manager or someone else. Firing from the job, harassment, and racial slurs are other common forms of direct retaliation employees go through.
Indirect or Subtle Retaliation
Indirect retaliation is difficult to prove, and some employees don’t even know they are being retaliated against. The most common example of subtle retaliation is excluding employees from meetings they used to attend.
Why Would Your Boss Be Retaliating Against You?
Though New York is an at-will state, but that doesn’t mean your boss can punish you for practicing the “protected activities.” There are many reasons why your boss may retaliate against you, such as:
You Reported a Misconduct
There are various employment laws such as wage and hour laws prohibit employers from doing any type of unfair labor practices in the workplace, including discrimination and wage theft. If you’ve complained about such misconduct or you were a whistle-blower, your boss might retaliate against you.
You Refused to Do Something Unlawful
There have been several incidents when employers ask their employees to indulge in unlawful activities. For example, an employer can ask HR to deduct overtime pay for all employees. Failing to do what the employer has asked to do or complaining about it can also make an employee experience retaliation.
You Requested a Reasonable Accommodation
Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must provide reasonable accommodations to their employees. However, when employees ask for such accommodations, they often get retaliated against. Enquiring about employment benefits is another reason your boss may retaliate against you.
You Served in Armed Forces Reserve
Sometimes bosses retaliate against their employees because they take leaves to serve their duties. While employers cannot fire or take action against employees who serve in the armed force, they retaliate against them.
You Filed for Worker’s Compensation Benefits
Every employee working in the United States is entitled to receive compensation benefits, provided it is mentioned in their employment contracts. Your boss may retaliate against you if you file for worker’s compensation benefits or enquire about them.
And there can be many reasons why your boss may be retaliating against you and has created a hostile work environment.
Do you suspect workplace retaliation? It’s essential to speak to a labor attorney at the earliest opportunity before retaliation becomes severe and affects your professional and personal life.
Call Levine & Blit at 866-351-0116 to know your rights against retaliation, and build a case against the employers. We’ll help you recover all benefits you deserve, and you can even get the job back if your employment was terminated unlawfully.
6 Signs Your Employer May be Retaliating Against You
Retaliation can take many forms, but not all of them are evident. Sometimes, employees think that this is the general behavior of their employer and not retaliation, and sometimes they think it’s retaliation, but it’s not.
Here are some signs that indicate you are a victim of workplace retaliation.
Sign 1: Being Excluded from Team Meetings and Gatherings
Many employers regularly hold team or company meetings for strategizing purposes and to keep the teams updated on company activities. Employers may attempt to exclude or sabotage the work of some employees by deliberately isolating them from the meetings.
Suppose your boss has suddenly asked you not to attend such gatherings, but you were previously invited to the events before complaining about harassment. In that case, you might be a victim of retaliation.
If your co-workers or employees that are the same position-holders as you are still invited to these gatherings, you can be sure about workplace retaliation.
Sign 2: Excessively Negative Performance Reviews
Receiving a negative performance review doesn’t always qualify as retaliation, provided the employer is able to rationalize their assessment. But, if you were the star employee before you became a “whistle-blower in a case” or “enquired about compensation benefits,” and suddenly you started receiving negative feedback, it could indicate retaliation.
Performance reviews are important in shaping the professional life of an employee, as they affect promotions, raises, and terminations. Unfortunately, your boss can also use negative feedback as a strong ground to take further action against you.
While firing or terminating is not always the outcome, employers often demote or impose pay cuts on employees to retaliate against them to avoid legal consequences.
Sign 3: Your Employer/Boss/Manager has Started Ignoring You
The silent treatment is a loud sign that you are a victim of workplace retaliation. You should be suspicious of retaliation if your manager or colleagues suddenly ignore you after participating in a protected activity.
Maybe the seniors have badmouthed you to your supervisors and colleagues, and collectively they’ve decided to squeeze you out of the company by ignoring you. There can be many forms of silent treatment, most of which are evident. Consider a case where an employee comes out as a queer, and it makes the management uncomfortable soon after:
- Colleagues or supervisors who used to take lunch with the employee get extremely busy during lunch;
- The managers exclude the employee from meetings and gatherings they used to attend before;
- The employee only hears about gatherings and meetings after they are over.
Sign 4: Denied Advancement Opportunities such as Promotion
Every employee wants to advance, but getting a promotion doesn’t seem easy, especially if your boss is retaliating against you. In such situations, you may struggle hard to secure a raise or a promotion, despite all the efforts and objectively stellar performance record.
Some employers, when their employees participate in “protected activities,” limit or prevent the advancement on discriminatory grounds. Also, employers can retaliate against employers by refusing them promised or expected promotions.
Proving this type of retaliation is difficult to prove, especially if your employer has been unfairly hindering your performance reviews.
For example, perhaps your boss has promised you a promotion or a raise. However, before the promotion, your boss asks you to do something unethical or asks for sexual advancements in return for promotion.
You politely refuse and suddenly come to know that your promotion is on hold or denied by the employer. This indicates retaliation in the workplace, and you can take action against it.
Sign 5: Physical or Verbal Abuse
Abuse in any form is a clear sign of retaliation, especially when it happens after you participate in a “protected activity.” Many New York employees who report workplace harassment say they experience retaliation from senior authorities in the form of physical or verbal abuse.
This type of abuse can include:
- A punch or slap
- Tripping or shoving
- Assault with a weapon
- Racial slurs
Abuse in any form when it happens in the workplace qualifies as an unlawful and criminal act that needs addressing.
One thing to note here is that abuse from your co-workers might not qualify as retaliation, but it can be sexual harassment.
Sign 6: You are Always Asked to Do More
Did your boss ask you to spend more time at the office and do extra work? Well, it may look normal, but it can be retaliation in some cases. This is a sign of subtle retaliation when the employee doesn’t know they are being retaliated against, and the employer takes advantage of that.
A clear indication that you are being retaliated against is that you are always asked to work more while other employees aren’t treated this way. You may start experiencing this change in your job shift after reporting a workplace incident or complaining against your boss for harassment.
Speak to the professional New York City labor lawyers at Levine & Blit to understand if you are a victim of retaliation. We’ll help you file a complaint with the right department while building a strong case against the retaliators.
What is the Law on Retaliation in New York?
There is a state and federal law that apply in cases of retaliation. It majorly depends on the grounds on which an employee was retaliated against.
According to Section 215 of the New York State Labor Law, “it is unlawful for an employer or anyone on their behalf to penalize, discharge, or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against the employee for engaging in a protected activity.
The New York law defines protected activities as:
- Filing a complaint with the Department of Labor or any other agency for possible labor law violations.
- Providing information to DOL or other government agencies such as National Labor Relations Board.
- Testifying in an investigation or proceeding under Labor Law.
- Making the employer receive an adverse determination from DOL
What Penalties Does the Law Impose on Employers for Retaliation?
According to the statute, if any employer in New York violates the Labor Law, the Department of Labor can:
- Order payment of damages
- Order payment of lost compensation to the victim (especially when an employee doesn’t even get at least minimum wage)
- Impose a penalty of up to $10,000 for a first offense, and up to $20,000
Employees can also bring a private civil action in court by involving a labor lawyer New York to get other benefits mentioned in their employment contract.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Retaliation in New York?
According to New York Employment Law, an employee can file a lawsuit against the employer for retaliation within two years from the date of the retaliatory act.
However, there are certain situations where the victims get an extension. For example, if the retaliation resulted in physical abuse, and the employee was severely injured due to the retaliatory act.
Are you looking to file a lawsuit against your employer for retaliation? Call our labor law firm at 866-351-0116 before the statute of limitations expires. From calculating the damages you’ve suffered to negotiating with your employer and filing a lawsuit, we take care of everything.
How to Prove Workplace Retaliation in New York?
NY is an at-will state, and employers have the right to fire/demote any employee at any time. However, it should be done lawfully and should not violate Labor Laws.
If you suspect workplace retaliation and want to bring in a civil lawsuit. In that case, you must show a link between the complaint (or behavior that you think triggered the retaliation) and the change in your employer’s behavior, such as the action they took against you.
Here are a few things you can do to build a strong case:
Document the Retaliatory Behavior
You should document the change in behavior, and it’ll help you establish a link between your complaint and retaliation. It would be great if you could take notes and collect the evidence, such as the demotion letter you received from the employer.
Talk to the HR
To strengthen your case, it’s essential to speak to HR so that you can prove that you informed the employer about retaliation. Try to submit a written complaint and receive a receipt from HR. Also, keep a copy of the complaint, and your attorneys can use it to build a case.
Contact Labor Lawyers in New York
First, NYC employment lawyers assess the circumstances to determine if they can stand a case against your employer. Next, the lawyer will help you gather and organize evidence while filing a case with the right authority.
Don’t Suffer from Workplace Retaliation: Contact Levine & Blit Today!
Retaliation in the workplace doesn’t just affect your professional life; it can also affect your personal life. If you suspect retaliation and have lost a significant amount in wages, you can take help from a lawyer.
At Levine & Blit, we are a team of highly professional labor lawyers in New York that can help you build a case against your employer. We are not afraid of big names, and our attorneys strive to help you recover fair compensation.
Contact us for a Free Case Evaluation, and explore your legal options against retaliation. Start the new year right off the right way and seek justice today!