Workplace Retaliation

The law would not mean anything if an employer could terminate an employee who complained about discrimination in the workplace.  The New York State Human Rights Law protects employees against workplace retaliation.

The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits an employer from discharging, or discriminating against, an employee who opposes a discriminatory practice. Such actions constitute workplace retaliation.  Opposing a discriminatory practices in the workplace, known as “protected activity,” can consist of a written or verbal internal complaint of discrimination to your employer, or Human Resources.  Protected activity also occurs when an employee assists another employee in his claim of discrimination.

Protected activity also includes an employee filing a complaint of discrimination at an administrative agency, or in court, or testifying in a proceeding, or assisting in a proceeding, concerning discrimination. However, to be considered “protected activity” under the New York State Human Rights Law, the underlying complaint must implicate a category of discrimination under the New York State Human Rights Law – sex, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, age, marital status, domestic violent victim status, predisposing genetic characteristics, prior arrest or conviction record, or familial status.  An underlying complaint which is not about a specific category of discrimination is not “protected activity,” and therefore cannot form the basis of a claim for workplace retaliation.

The New York State Human Rights Law allows an employee to file a charge of discrimination if that employee was subject to workplace retaliation.  The charge must be filed within one year.  Many times, an employer receives a charge of discrimination based on some other category and then fires, or takes an adverse action, against the employee. This constitutes workplace retaliation. The employee may then file a charge of workplace retaliation at the New York State Division of Human Rights.

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