Retaliation for Reports of Discrimination

New Jersey has one of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the Country. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) protects employees who report acts of discrimination or harassment from retaliation. An employer breaks the law by retaliating against an employee who stands up against discrimination or harassment.

To prove a claim of retaliation under New Jersey’s discrimination law, an employee must first show that he or she made a complaint. The complaint has to be made to someone in the chain of command, such as a supervisor or Human Resources. An employee must use language that makes the complaint “protected activity” under the NJLAD. In other words, the employee must specifically complain that he or she is being treated differently or discriminated against because of a protected trait. A protected trait includes gender, pregnancy, race, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, age, or military status. Similarly, the employee must specifically complain that he or she is being harassed because of a protected trait for a complaint about harassment to be considered “protected activity” under the NJLAD.

The employee must then prove that he or she was retaliated against for making the complaint. There must be an adverse employment action. The strongest cases involve clear adverse employment actions. Adverse employment actions are changes to the terms and conditions of employment.

The most drastic adverse employment action is job termination. However, other actions will also qualify. These include job suspension, discipline, or demotion. Severe or frequent harassment can also constitute an adverse employment action. Sometimes, a workplace becomes so hostile that it forces an employee to resign or to be constructively terminated.

A successful plaintiff who proves retaliation under New Jersey’s discrimination law can become entitled to lost wages, emotional distress damages, attorneys fees and costs, and punitive damages.

Mr. Wronko is experienced in discrimination complaint retaliation cases. For instance, he successfully won a trial in Emmons v. AT&T in New Brunswick, Middlesex County, Superior Court based on a claim of retaliation after Ms. Emmons made a complaint that she was discriminated against based on her gender. He also obtained a $150,000 settlement following a two (2) week trial in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey Superior Court in Tafur v. Plainfield Board of Education. In that case, Ms. Tafur alleged, in part, that she had been retaliated against for helping a co-worker report sexual harassment. If you would like an initial telephone consultation on a retaliation claim under New Jersey’s discrimination law, please call (973) 360-1001.