This hypothetical scenario happens more often than you might think.
Steve works in the human resources department for a large logistics company in New Haven. His boss hands him a pile of resumes and tells him to weed out those from young women, saying that the company doesn’t want to invest in someone who might soon go on maternity leave. When Steve complains about the company’s illegal practice of hiring based on an applicant’s age or sex, he suddenly finds his position changed and hours reduced. Steve’s boss has essentially retaliated against him for opposing discrimination.
A quick review of today’s headlines confirms that illegal workplace practices are not rare. Companies are routinely being exposed for withholding important data from the public, discriminating against older workers, committing safety violations, and similar actions. When concerned and conscientious employees oppose and/or report such behavior, retaliation often follows.
Workplace Retaliation Defined
Workplace retaliation refers to any adverse employment action or decision arising from a legally protected act. Such actions include but are not limited to:
- Wrongful termination
- Demotion or denial of promotion
- Pay downgrade
- Loss of benefits
- Hostile work environment
- Disciplinary actions
- Negative performance review
What Acts Are Legally Protected?
In Connecticut, there are several instances when an employer may retaliate against an employee. They include:
- Refusing to engage in illegal actions at the employer’s request
- Filing a harassment or discrimination claim
- Filing a whistleblower claim
- Requesting time off under Family and Medical Leave Act
- Cooperating with a legal investigation or proceeding against the company
- Supporting another employee’s claim against an employer
Certain state and federal laws protect you from retaliation. For example:
- Connecticut General Statutes sec. 31-51m prohibits employers from retaliating against whistleblowers, or those who report illegal practices to an outside agency.
- The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, national origin, sexual orientation, and other specified traits. It makes it illegal to retaliate against an employee not just for reporting workplace discrimination, but also for actively opposing it (e.g. protesting it to your boss).
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits punishing job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination including harassment discrimination.
Connecticut law further prohibits retaliation against employees who file a workers’ compensation claim or exercise their freedom of speech rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Just because workplace retaliation is illegal doesn’t mean that it rarely happens. If you believe that you have been retaliated against for reporting discrimination or company wrongdoing, filing for workers’ compensation, taking family or medical leave, or other legally protected activities, contact Monarch Law immediately. We have years of experience with state and federal laws governing workplace retaliation, and will help you fight for the compensatory damages you are entitled to.