If you’ve ever been fired, demoted or reprimanded at work, you know that it can be an upsetting experience. Even if you disagree with an employer’s decision to punish or admonish you, you may have little recourse since employers generally have the right to make employment decisions as they see fit.
However, if an employer takes these actions in order to retaliate against you, they may be violating your rights.
Retaliation refers to an adverse action taken against an employee because of their participation in protected activity.
Under New York and federal laws, it is unlawful to mistreat workers because of their race, age, religion, gender or cultural background. This is discrimination. And if an employee engages in a protected activity, such as complaining to their employer that they were discriminated against, and the employer suspends, demotes, or fires the employee for making the complaint, that would constitute unlawful retaliation.
These aren’t the only examples of retaliation. There are numerous protected activities, such as requesting accommodations for a disability, refusing to engage in illegal activities, and complaining about unpaid wages, that can form the basis of a retaliation claim. And many other adverse actions, including a reduction in hours or a relocation to a less desirable location, may be considered unlawful retaliation.
Building a claim for retaliation
If you suspect that your employer has retaliated against you, you may have grounds to file a legal claim against them.
However, these cases can be more complicated than you may expect. It will not be sufficient to simply state that you were retaliated against. You will need to have evidence to support your allegations.
Some examples of the types of evidence that can help bolster your claim include:
- Emails, text messages, letters, or voicemails from a manager or employer
- Performance reviews
- Records of complaints made by or against you
- Timelines marking important dates
- Witness statements
Whether you retain this information or work with your attorney to collect it during an investigation, it can help to show that your employer’s decision to terminate you or take some other adverse action was retaliatory.
If you can show that you were retaliated against and suffered damages as a result, you may be able to file a retaliation claim and collect damages from your employer.