Adverse Employment Actions: What They Are, What They Do

Too often, employees who observe or experience any wrongdoing or misconduct in the workplace are afraid to blow the whistle for fear of retaliation from their bosses or the company itself. If this is something that hits close to home for you, you should know that protections exist against any discriminatory or retaliatory actions by employers, which constitute an adverse employment action.

What is an adverse employment action?

An adverse employment action refers to any action committed by an individual or business entity that fails to uphold an employee’s legal rights in relation to fair and equal employment opportunities.

Under California and federal law, workers are protected when they lodge a complaint on their supervisor, company management, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In addition, it’s not the outcome of the complaint or the exposés that determines protection – even those whose claim is found to not have merit are protected by these laws.

How to stand up for your rights

If you’re afraid of what might happen to your job and career should you choose to file a report or complaint against a co-worker, manager, or company, know that help is readily available. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a law firm like Hogue & Belong, Attorneys at Law, that specializes in cases like yours.

Below are specific examples of adverse employment actions and how you can obtain justice in your case.

  • Excessively monitoring your work

As an “undesirable” worker, you may notice that your employer is suddenly taking keener interest in your work, examining your tasks and duties more closely in the hopes of finding a reason to dismiss or punish you. If you feel that you’ve been unfairly put under surveillance, do not hesitate to call an employment attorney in San Diego for advice and assistance on the proper legal steps you can pursue to bring suspicious activity to light.

  • Demotion or work transfer

A demotion can be an employer’s way of penalizing a whistleblower. Aside from downgrading your job title, being given less responsibilities may affect your compensation.

A work transfer can have the same effect as a demotion if you’re moving to a new office that’s less desirable or prestigious, or provides little to no room for advancement.

In any case, whether you’ve been demoted or transferred, a dramatic reduction in your salary or benefits can be treated as an adverse employment action, which may entitle you to a legal claim.

  • Reducing or threatening to reduce your salary

Federal law dictates that all employers must adhere to a set minimum wage and specific overtime pay rates when compensating their employees. In addition, the state of California has its own laws that append the federal law. If your employer docks your pay for any hours of work rendered, or if they tell you that you are not qualified to be paid overtime, you may have a claim for monetary damages or unpaid wages.

  • Delayed or denied promotion

Ideally, you will be rewarded with a promotion or raise when you’re effective at your job. But if you’re left waiting in the wings after filing a complaint, your delayed or denied promotion could represent an adverse action on the part of your employer. Map out a legal battle plan with the help of an employment lawyer.

  • An increasingly hostile working environment

Supervisors and colleagues may attempt to pressure you into quitting by making your work life miserable. Such conduct may be seen as clearly in violation of state and federal employment laws. If you think you are being subjected to a hostile work environment, discuss your potential claims for damages with an employment attorney.

  • Undeserved disciplinary action

Whistleblowers should be commended, not punished or subjected to direct and indirect discriminatory measures. That said, a negative performance review or disciplinary action is not adverse employment action per se, but it can be part of a larger campaign designed to harass the whistleblowing employee. As such, an unfair disciplinary measure can turn out to be legally prosecutable depending on the circumstances surrounding it.

  • Wrongful termination

Probably the most common type of adverse employment action, a wrongful termination (otherwise known as wrongful dismissal), is what happens when someone is laid off for an unlawful or discriminatory reason. If you feel that your dismissal is a mistake, consult with an employee misclassification professional to learn about your legal options.

Don’t let the imbalance of power between you and your employer keep you from standing up for your rights. Discuss your situation with our law firm and let us help you get the justice you deserve.

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