Federal law and state laws protect employees from retaliation for participating in protected activities, such as complaining about perceived discriminatory practices or wage violations such as unpaid overtime. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and many other states, “employment at will” is what governs the employee-employer relationship. What this means is that an employer can fire or terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all, except that an employee cannot be terminated for an illegal reason. But, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee as an act of retaliation because that employee spoke up about the employer’s discriminatory actions, wage violations, or other illegal activities. It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate by subjecting the employee to an “adverse employment action.”
Proving Retaliation and Wrongful Termination
To demonstrate that the employer illegally retaliated against an employee, the employee needs to:
- Show that he or she was engaged in a protected activity, such as complaining about the employer’s illegal discrimination or participating in a workplace investigation (“protected activities”);
- Show that the employer subjected the employee to an adverse employment action, such as termination, a demotion, a denial of benefits, or a loss of a promotion;
- Show that the adverse employment action was the result of the employee’s participation in a protected activity.
Good Faith Belief for the Complaint
If an employee makes a protected complaint (e.g., complains about discrimination based on a disability) and is terminated for making that complaint, all that is necessary is the employee’s good faith belief that discrimination existed. If the employee is incorrect about whether discrimination occurred, as long as the employee had a good faith belief that discrimination took place, and was retaliated against by the employer for making that complaint, a retaliation cause of action exists.
The employment lawyers at The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks PC are knowledgeable and experienced in handling retaliation claims and wrongful termination claims. Please contact us today for a confidential case evaluation. Please keep in mind that the amount of time that you may have to bring a claim, i.e.,the statute of limitations, runs from the last negative action taken against you. The Law Firm of Morgan Rooks PC is on the employee’s side. For an evaluation of the legal claims that you may have against your employer, contact us at (800) 406-8013 or via email.