The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are two of the many federal decrees that protect employees and job applicants in the US from wrongful termination, unjust compensation, and any form of discrimination, harassment, coercion, threats and intimidation in the workplace. Another protection that EEOC provides, which many employees and applicants may not be aware of, is protection against retaliation, which many have experienced and suffered from.
Retaliation involves any form of adverse activity that an employment agency or an employer may resort to that is directed against an employee or a job applicant who takes part in activities that are protected under the law. For better understanding, clarifying the meaning of adverse acts and legally protected activities should be necessary:
adverse acts – these refer to actions that can hinder any individual in the workplace from opposing discriminatory employment practices or from participating in proceedings that can expose employment discrimination. These may be accomplished through refusal to hire, filing of (or threats of filing) criminal or civil charges against anyone who would oppose or expose unjust employment practices, unjust negative evaluation or character referencing, and so forth; while,
legally protected activities – refer to actions that will help prove and expose harassment and/or discriminatory practices. Specifically, these actions include, but are not limited to:
- Witnessing in a legal proceeding or in an EEOC investigation
- Manifesting one’s intention to file a discrimination charge or actually filing an employment discrimination case
- Joining employee protests/pickets aimed at stopping workplace discrimination
- Refusing to follow any order (from a superior) that is honestly believed as discriminatory
Some retaliatory acts may be out rightly obvious, like a demotion, salary reduction, being laid off or being denied a promotion or salary increase; there are those, however, that are subtle and are, thus, not quite obvious, such as job relocation or sudden change in work schedule, which can be a major factor in limiting an employee’s flexibility or which can greatly affect a parent-employee’s time with his/her children.
Employment discrimination is not easy to prove and while an employee may have enough, valid reasons and proofs that will authenticate his/her claim, the employer will surely have his/her own attorney who would be prepared with counter arguments and ways of deposing the complainant and his/her witnesses.
Seeking the help of exceptionally competent lawyers, like New York City discrimination lawyers, would be useful in exposing workplace discrimination where it exists. As experienced legal experts, they will also be able to effectively represent and fight for the rights of aggrieved employees.