As an employee, you have a right to feel comfortable and safe when you go to work every day. If you have an issue with a coworker or suspect illegal activity, you must be able to report this negative behavior without the threat of retaliation. In the event that your employer responds to your decision in a way that negatively affects your workplace performance, you may have a case.
An adverse employment action is a materially adverse change in the terms and conditions of a person’s employment. Simply put, this refers to any decision made by your employer that changes the way you operate at work.
It becomes problematic when your employer takes a harmful action against you as a result of your decision to report discrimination, illegal activity or anything else that has the potential to damage the company. There is a long list of adverse employment actions that may result in a lawsuit, but some are naturally more prevalent than others.
Wrongful termination is one of the most common examples of an adverse action your employer may take against you. This occurs when an employer breaches an employment law statute or provision in order to fire an employee.
For example, if your supervisor decides to terminate your employment shortly after you reported discriminating behavior, you may have a lawsuit. The key is being able to connect the dots with evidence.
Finding a new position can be challenging. You may have to send your information out to a handful of companies and schedule multiple interviews. When you finally get into the home stretch, your potential employer may ask you to provide references from previous positions. What your previous employer says about you could ultimately determine if you receive an offer.
Your former employer may not have a glowing opinion of you, but it is unlawful for him or her to provide false information about your performance. For example, if there is physical evidence that you were at work every day, and your former employer tells a potential employer that your attendance was spotty, you may have a lawsuit.
Demotion or wage reduction
Another common adverse employment action is receiving a demotion or wage reduction. For example, you see your supervisor harassing one of your coworkers. You decide to report the action, and a couple weeks later you receive a notice that your title has changed. Additionally, you will receive less paid time off and a reduced salary.
This scenario represents an example of an unlawful adverse employment action taken by your employer potentially as a result of your decision to report his or her behavior. In this instance, you may have enough evidence to file a lawsuit.
Failure to promote
You have been fortunate enough to work for the same company for almost a decade. You have received sparkling performance reviews and rarely miss work. However, you did report that one of your supervisors has shown a pattern of negative behavior in the workplace. When the opportunity for a promotion presents itself, the same supervisor decides on a candidate who is considerably less qualified.
This failure to promote may qualify as an unlawful adverse employment action. As always, it is crucial that you are able to prove that your employer promoted someone else in order to avoid promoting you.
If you believe that you are a victim of an unlawful adverse employment action, make sure to contact an experienced professional to guide you through your case.