What retaliation means in the workplace

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2021 | Employment Law |

New Jersey employers might have heard about retaliation lawsuits in the workplace. Retaliation happens when an employee receives disciplinary action or consequences after reporting on harmful or illegal practices.

Why do employees face retaliation?

Retaliation can happen after an employee brings up a complaint with their supervisors or an organization above the company. Employees also might see retaliation after asking their colleagues or managers about salary information.

Retaliation can also happen after an employee requests accommodation for a disability or religious practice. An employer might start treating their employee differently after learning more about them, which can count as retaliation under certain circumstances.

What counts as retaliation?

Retaliation looks different from workplace to workplace. An employee might see retaliation in the form of:

  • Poor performance evaluations
  • Verbal or physical harassment or abuse
  • Transfers or dismissals

In addition, the employee might notice that their employer or colleagues are treating them differently as far as assigning work or delegating responsibilities. It can be hard to determine what does and does not classify as retaliation.

The key is the timing of the retaliation and having evidence. For example, an employee who comes out at work as LGBT+ might have a retaliation case if they suddenly start receiving poor performance evaluations when previous evaluations were positive.

What should employees who suspect retaliation do?

Employees who suspect their employers of retaliating against them for one reason or another should start documenting everything. Retaliation can be hard to prove, so any evidence that an employee gathers may be extremely helpful.

Usually, battling retaliation means reporting the behaviors to someone above the employer. This can come in the form of lawsuits, a report to HR or even reporting them to a union or agency above the company.

Many people can be scared to report behavior again for fear of making it worse. However, retaliation should be handled as soon as it’s suspected.