Reporting your employer can be a difficult decision, but you may feel as though there is no other option. When you have been treated unfairly or overworked according to the law, reporting your employer can help you get compensation. However, there is also a great risk of employer retaliation.
Retaliation occurs when your employer begins to punish you for asserting your legal rights in the workplace. If you report them to HR, for example, they may begin to retaliate by “punishing” you with excessive amounts of additional work, revoking rights, or threatening termination.
If you find yourself concerned about what might happen if you report an employer, it can be helpful to speak with a New Jersey employment law attorney to determine your next steps.
If that employer retaliates against you, they will be breaking New Jersey employment laws and may face legal consequences.
What laws are in place to protect me from employer retaliation?
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) strictly prohibits any employer from retaliating against an employee who reports them for unethical/illegal behavior or professional misconduct.
There are a variety of NJ labor laws that can protect you against retaliation, including, but not limited to:
- Conscientious Employee Protect Act, N.J.S.A.
- Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A.
- Right to minimum wage and a limit to working hours (J.S.A. § 34:11-56a24)
- Access to pay you have been promised, as well as any benefits you are entitled to (N.J.S.A. § 34:11-4.10)
- Right to temporary disability benefits or temporary disability leave for yourself or a family member (J.S.A. § 43:21-55.2)
- Protection against false claims about you being made to the state (False Claims Act, J.S.A. § 2A:32C-10)
There are many other laws and acts in place that protect employees across all industries from unlawful penalties of employer retaliation.
What should I do if my employer is retaliating against me?
The first thing you should do is collect as much evidence as possible. Write down every incidence of retaliation and include as much detail as possible. If you can get statements from coworkers or witnesses to the retaliation, this can be beneficial as well.
The best thing to do is present this evidence to your company’s human resource department. If you work for a small business that does not have anyone else to report to, you can contact contacting a labor lawyer in NJ at Hamilton Law Firm.
How do you prove illegal workplace retaliation?
There are many forms retaliation in the workplace can take, including:
- Firing you
- Reducing your hours
- Demoting you
- Revoking rights and benefits
- Withholding payment
- Being transferred
- Being excluded from social groups
- Being denied promotions or other professional opportunities
Any negative action taken toward you as a result of reporting your employer can likely be considered retaliation. It can also be helpful to create a paper trail with HR, so you can substantiate your claims of unfair, unethical, and possibly illegal treatment.
The best way to know for sure is to record everything that has happened since you reported your employer and present the information to an attorney for review.
In some cases, you may find speaking with a lawyer helpful before mentioning anything to HR or another supervisor. Doing this could help protect your position and paycheck as you explore your legal options.
What makes a strong retaliation case?
The ability to connect retaliation in the workplace as a result of reporting an employer requires evidence. For this reason, keeping a record of any misconduct is vital. Whether there are threatening emails, messages, or statements made to you in person, you should gather as much detail as you can to support your case.
It is also beneficial for you to keep a timeline of the events as they have unfolded since reporting your employer. Retaliation must stem from an offense, which, in this case, would be a report you filed against your employer.
If you are unable to get a clear and legitimate reason for changes in treatment from your employer, you may need to contact a lawyer and have a hearing in front of the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
How to file a retaliation complaint
You can file a complaint internally with your company’s human resources department. However, if you feel you need to pursue greater legal action, then you can discuss your concerns with the NJ Division of Wage & Hour Compliance.
A labor lawyer in NJ can help you proceed with this action and file the appropriate paperwork while structuring your argument.
If you are facing employer retaliation right now, know that you are not alone. Please contact Hamilton Law Firm to learn more about how we may be able to help you.