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What to Do When Your New Jersey Employer Retaliates Against You for Filing a Discrimination Case

Imagine you’ve been the victim of illegal discrimination at work. You sued, you won, you received an award of damages and the court closed the case. Barring an appeal, that’s the end, right? Not always, especially for workers who remain working for the same employer that discriminated against them. Too many times, unfortunately, workers who rightfully assert their right to utilize the legal system to protect themselves against discrimination suffer reprisals by their employers for having done so.

When that happens, that punishment may well be a violation of the law, too, and may entitle the worker to an additional award of compensation. To learn exactly what the law allows you to do as a result of the illegal discrimination and/or retaliation you suffered, be sure to contact an experienced New Jersey discrimination attorney to discuss the facts of your situation.

N.J. was a New Jersey worker in that type of difficult circumstance. N.J., an African-American and an employee of a New Jersey state regulatory agency, sued his employer in 2011, alleging that he was the victim of a hostile work environment based upon his race. The employer and employee settled that case, with the employer agreeing to pay the employee a settlement of $125,000.

In some situations, that might have been the final chapter, but not for this worker. After the 2011 case settled, the man’s supervisors allegedly began treating him badly as a result of his having brought that original discrimination claim.

Many kinds of adverse employment actions, if taken by the employer in retaliation for the employee’s assertion of his rights (such as filing a discrimination claim), can be the foundation of a successful retaliation lawsuit under the Law Against Discrimination. They can include things like terminations, demotions, suspensions, reduction of benefits, reduction of hours or reassignment of job duties.

In 2012, the employer was cut off new work assignments, which harmed N.J.’s stature and prominence in his workplace, he alleged. In 2016, the employer suspended N.J. for five days, supposedly for failing to meet deadlines. In 2017, the employer issued N.J. a 30-day suspension, again supposedly for failing to meet his deadlines at work. N.J. sued again, this time for discrimination and retaliation. (Superior Court of New Jersey – Law Division, Mercer County, Case No. MER-L-416-14).

To make your case, you need more than just proof of adverse actions. You need proof that there was a “causal connection” between the adverse acts and the protected activity (which, in N.J.’s circumstance, was the first discrimination complaint.)

In this case, N.J. had evidence that persuaded the jury that there was a sufficient link of causation between the first discrimination complaint and the subsequent adverse employment actions.

Once you’ve done that, you can obtain both economic and non-economic damages. (The latter includes things like emotional damages.) In some circumstances, if the employer’s conduct was adequately egregious, the jury can also award you punitive damages. In N.J.’s case, the jury concluded that he was entitled to emotional damages, economic damages and punitive damages. All totaled, the compensation exceeded $986,000.

Race discrimination is something no one should have to endure at work. Unfortunately, some do, and some of those have to endure it more than once. If you’ve properly used the legal system to protect your right to be free of discrimination, then suffered workplace harm for having taken that action, you may have another claim for compensation. Reach out to the knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates to learn more about the options the legal system gives you. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can help you get the results you deserve.

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