The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has just issued guidance, clarifying that employees can seek a legal remedy in the event they suffer retaliation for reporting COVID-19 related violations. This means that anyone who suffers employment discrimination for reporting employers that violate COVID-19 labor protections can file a complaint with the EEOC or pursue litigation in court, as appropriate. This guidance has upset some employers, who fear a wave of lawsuits for alleged COVID-19 retaliation.
What is Retaliation?
In terms of labor law, retaliation refers to any action taken by an employer against an employee for reporting other labor law violations, or for taking action to protect other employees suffering from those violations. Retaliation is illegal, even in cases where the person reporting the violation was not the victim of the violation themselves. This is because every employee has the inherent right to report suspected illegal behavior, and are protected by law against suffering professional consequences as a result.
What is COVID-19 Retaliation?
COVID-19 retaliation specifically refers to retaliatory actions taken by employers for reporting violations of COVID-19 related regulations. This regulations include, but are not limited to:
- Rules requiring masks or other protective gear for employees
- Anti-discrimination protections for people with disabilities
- Rules permitting employees to ask for reasonable accommodations
- Time off for vaccinations or to self-quarantine
- Rules protecting applicants and former employees from retaliation
What Does Retaliation Look Like?
Retaliation is not always immediately obvious, but it can take a few regular forms. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Firing, suspending, or refusing to hire someone who reports a labor law violation
- Docking someone’s pay or benefits for reporting labor law violations
- Inventing issues to justify disciplining employees
- Giving lower performance reviews in response to reporting labor law violations
- Refusing to grant employees sick or vacation days they are otherwise entitled to
- Refusing to give promotions to employees who report violations
- Transferring “problem” employees to undesirable positions or work locations
What Should You Do if You Have Been Retaliated Against?
If you have been the victim of COVID-19 retaliation after you reported a violation of labor or employment law, you should speak to a lawyer right away. An attorney with experience handling discrimination and retaliation issues can help you to obtain the justice you deserve. The sooner you call, the sooner they can get to work on your case and help you get compensation for the harm you have suffered.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.