In New York, you have a right to go to work without worrying about facing sexual harassment or illegal workplace discrimination. You also generally have a right to complain when your manager or coworkers engage in impermissible conduct. How your employer responds to your complaint may tell you a great deal about where you work.
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse employment action against an employee for exercising his or her legal rights or engaging in protected activities. While termination of employment may be clearly retaliatory, your employer may retaliate against you in three subtler ways.
1. Denying you a promotion
You have worked hard to build your career. If your employer refuses to promote you after you file a complaint, you may be the victim of retaliation. This is especially true if your manager has promised you a promotion or you are otherwise in line for one.
2. Excluding you from important functions
To perform your job duties successfully, you may need to meet with clients, customers and others. You may also require training or continuing education to gain additional skills. If your complaint causes your manager to exclude you from important functions, retaliation may be to blame. Likewise, it may be retaliatory for your employer to leave you out of work-related social activities.
3. Changing your job duties or schedule
If your employer brands you as difficult after you file a complaint, your manager may rework your job duties or change your schedule. Doing so without a rational and legal explanation, though, may be retaliatory. Furthermore, if your managers do little or nothing to stop ongoing harassment, they may be retaliating against you for asserting your legal rights.
Remember, many employers understand they cannot wrongfully terminate employment as retaliation for a complaint. Because your manager or coworkers may use subtler tactics, you may want to keep a journal to document retaliatory behaviors.