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Are You a Victim of Delayed Workplace Retaliation?

singled outDelayed Workplace Retaliation

Laws exist to protect workers who voice concerns about workplace discrimination from retaliation. But for these laws to provide the protection they guarantee, workers need to recognize an action as retaliation.

In most cases, retaliation will happen in direct response or shortly after a worker files a complaint, but this isn’t always the case. Retaliation might even follow a seemingly positive response from your employer. There is such a thing as delayed retaliation and if you’re a victim, you could still be entitled to protection under anti-retaliation laws.

What do you do when you believe you’re facing retaliation but you aren’t sure because of the time-frame?

Was It a Case of Delayed Retaliation?

Starting by looking at your situation objectively. If you filed a complaint, the issue was resolved, and months later you are terminated, it might be retaliation but not necessarily.

Ask yourself:

  • Were other people terminated/laid off at the same time?
  • Have there been recent discipline issues that would justify termination?
  • Are significant changes happening within the company, such as your department being downsized?

Regardless of how you answered these questions, your termination might still be retaliation, but it’s less likely. However, if you can honestly answer “no” to all of these questions, there’s a good chance you are facing retaliation.

Why is retaliation delayed?

Employers postpone retaliation because they know it makes them less likely to look guilty. They stand a better chance that their denial that the act was retaliation will seem believable. In larger companies that receive media scrutiny when discrimination claims are filed, they know media attention will eventually subside and the retaliatory actions might go unnoticed.

New York Offers Protection to Victims of Delayed Retaliation

The good news is that even if your employer waits to retaliate against you, New York law does protect you. This is the case even if your employer makes a change for the better as a result of your complaint and later takes action against you.

New York State Labor Law makes it illegal for employers to discharge, penalize, or discriminate or retaliate against an employee for:

  • Filing a complaint about a potential labor law violation 
  • Filing any complaint with the Labor Department
  • Providing information to the Labor Department
  • Testifying in an investigation regarding labor violations
  • Exercising any rights protected under Labor Law

To learn more about New York State’s retaliation protections check out this information from the New York State Department of Labor.

In addition to state laws regarding retaliation, New York City’s Human Rights Law also makes it illegal for anyone – employers, landlords, or anyone else to whom the New York City Human Rights Law applies – to retaliate against someone for filing a complaint regarding:

  • Unlawful discriminatory practice
  • Human Rights Law violations
  • Testifying, assisting, or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing relating to the NYC Human Rights Law

You are protected as long as your complaint was made based on your reasonable good faith belief that conduct was illegal, even if it turns out this was not the case.

Furthermore, if you’re able to prove that the actions against you were retaliation, federal whistleblower laws might offer additional protection and/or compensation.

If you believe you are a victim of retaliation or you have questions about your rights regarding retaliation, regardless of when it occurs, contact the new york employment lawyers Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation.


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