When workers in New Jersey and New York encounter discrimination or harassment on the job, they have both federal and state rights that will protect them. Unfortunately, in the process of seeking that protection through the proper channels at work, workers may face retaliatory actions from the employer that can range from losing a promotion or being transferred to another sector, to disciplinary action, demotion or even job termination.
Some employees feel so intimidated and fearful at the thought of potential blowback or of losing their jobs that they don’t act. It can take new employees years to find out about existing work practices that create a hostile or intimidating work environment at their job, especially in highly competitive industries. Instead of waiting for things to get worse, however, it is better to fight for your rights by discovering your legal options when filing a claim.
Federal laws against retaliation
Federal equal opportunity laws not only prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on such factors as race, sex, color, religion, or national origin, but also retaliation by the employer toward employees who speak out or file a claim. An employer may not retaliate against an employee or job applicant who:
- Reports incidents of harassment or discrimination to a manager or superior.
- Refuses to go along with discriminatory practice or orders.
- Files a complaint or a claim or serves as a witness to a discrimination or harassment case.
- Resists or intervenes against unwanted sexual advances.
- Requests accommodations based on religion or disability.
- Requests disclosure of information on wages.
State protections against retaliation
Both New York and New Jersey have strong laws against retaliation. New York labor laws also specifically prohibit employer retaliation, and employees may file complaints through the Labor Department. Under the New Jersey law against discrimination (LAD), which is enforced under the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, employees are protected against many forms of discrimination, and the LAD prohibits retaliation against complaints of discrimination.
New Jersey laws also protect workers who file complaints against employers who practice wage discrimination, misclassify workers in the constructions industry, or violate wage and hour, payday, sick leave or family leave laws.