What is an Adverse Employment Action?

As an employee, you have probably heard of the term “adverse employment action,” but chances are, you do not quite understand what it means. When employees experience discrimination or retaliation at work, it takes the form of a significant action such as a demotion or even a termination. Such actions are what are referred to as “adverse employment actions.” In New Jersey, such actions are actionable if they violate an employee’s legal right. For example, if termination is motivated by discrimination or retaliation or breaches your employment contract, you may be eligible to take legal action against your employer.

Below are some common types of adverse employment actions that employees experience.

Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination, also known as wrongful dismissal, is when an employer illegally fires an employee. For example, if an employer fires you because of your gender or age, you could be a victim of wrongful termination.

Wrongful Demotion

Often, wrongful demotions occur as a means for employers to retaliate against whistleblowers. Usually, when an employee is wrongfully demoted, they suffer a reduction in their job title, duties and/or compensation.

Even though some can consider a reduction in one’s salary as technically not a demotion, it is crucial to note that such an action on its own can still be regarded as an adverse employment action.

Wrongful Transfers and Reassignments

Employers know that easy-to-identify adverse employment actions such as termination and demotion can easily raise alarm and cause employees to take legal action. Therefore, they sometimes disguise discrimination and retaliation. For example, an employer might transfer an employee and not reduce the employee’s official rank but instead assign the employee duties that are, among other things, less prestigious or only slightly related to their previous work.

Fortunately, courts are aware that employers disguise adverse employment actions. According to both New Jersey and federal courts, if a transfer or reassignment results in, among other things, less desirable job duties and loss of status, you may have a valid adverse employment action claim.

Constructive Discharge

According to the EEOC, constructive discharge is when an employer forces an employee to resign by making the work environment so unbearable that a reasonable person wouldn’t be able to stay. Employers who find it hard to directly fire an employee usually prefer this route.

Failure To Promote

Sometimes an employer will use an illegally prohibited factor to deny an employee a promotion. If your employee refuses to promote you because of a prohibited factor such as age or gender, you may have a valid adverse employment action claim.

Proving an Adverse Employment Action

As already mentioned, sometimes employers disguise adverse employment actions. Because of this, it can be unclear whether your employer’s actions against you are considered illegal. If your employer has done something that you believe constitutes an adverse employment action, please reach out to a skilled employment lawyer. An employment lawyer can assess your case and advise you accordingly.

Contact Our Office for a Free Case Evaluation

If you believe that you or someone you love has experienced an adverse employment action at work in New Jersey, please feel free to contact Arykah Trabosh of the Trabosh Law Firm.