Employees should be able to show up to their workplace and feel secure knowing they’re entering a safe and professional environment. Unfortunately, many New York City employees who report or file a claim for working in a hostile work environment are subjected to victimization. Employers are prohibited from victimizing or retaliating against employees for reporting discriminatory or harassing conduct in their workplace.

If you have been subjected to victimization in the workplace, it’s crucial that you understand your legal options. You may have a right to pursue a hostile work environment or retaliation-based legal claim against your employer. The attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP know how to hold employers accountable for victimizing employees who report a hostile work environment. Contact Lipsky Lowe LLP to discuss your potential claim with an experienced New York City employment attorney.

How to Recognize Victimization in the Workplace

Recognizing the signs of victimization in the workplace can help you protect yourself and your rights. Victimization happens when an employee is treated unfairly or harassed because they’ve raised concerns or complained about their employer’s unlawful employment practices. 

Employees can also be victimized for supporting another employee who is pursuing an anti-discrimination claim. For example, suppose a coworker has been sexually harassed in the workplace and files a claim with the human resources department. In the complaint, she identifies a co-worker who witnessed the incident. If the employer retaliates against the employee who filed the complaint or the witness in any way, they are violating anti-discrimination laws. 

Examples of Workplace Victimization

Many legal claims can lead to an employee being victimized at work. Discrimination based on a person’s protected characteristic is unlawful under New York City, state, and federal laws. Employees have a right to report and file legal complaints related to discrimination based on membership in the following protected classes:

Victimization in the workplace happens when an employee experiences unfair treatment due to their original complaint. The unfair treatment must have a detrimental effect on the employee. Examples of victimization can include the following:

  • The employee feels excluded or isolated from work-related activities
  • The employee is subjected to excessive or unreasonable workloads
  • The employee receives unfair treatment compared to other employees
  • The employee is demoted unfairly
  • The employee is wrongfully terminated
  • The employer refuses to allow the employee to take part in training opportunities
  • The employee is subjected to offensive, demeaning, or harassing language
  • The employee is passed over for a job opportunity or promotion

Any behavior that can make an employee feel vulnerable, powerless, or targeted because they’ve pursued a report or complaint of unlawful discrimination can be considered victimization in the workplace. 

Is Victimization in the Workplace a Form of Unlawful Retaliation?

Multiple laws protect employees from victimization or retaliation for reporting a hostile work environment. At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 are a few employment laws protecting employees. The New York State Human Rights Laws and New York City’s Human Rights Laws provide additional legal protection. 

These laws allow employees to sue an employer who has created or failed to prevent a hostile work environment. Witnessing or experiencing discriminatory harassment can constitute a hostile work environment. Employees have a right to report discriminatory harassment to their company’s human resources department or manager. 

If the employer fails to stop the discriminatory harassment causing a hostile work environment, the employee can pursue a legal claim. The anti-discrimination laws mentioned above also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees for reporting a hostile work environment. 

What to Do If You’ve Experienced Victimization and a Hostile Work Environment

Many employees are concerned about their employers retaliating against them. Under New York, state, and federal laws, employees are protected from retaliation for pursuing discrimination claims related to a hostile work environment. If you have experienced adverse effects after pursuing a hostile work environment claim, keeping a record is important. 

Make sure you have the original documentation of the report or complaint you filed related to your employer’s hostile work environment. Additionally, you should save text messages, emails, and other evidence of retaliation against you. If you have in-person conversations, write down the content of those conversations. Keep a record of the types of retaliation you’ve endured. 

Pursuing a Retaliation Claim Against Your Employer

Retaliation is any behavior that makes employees afraid to speak up against unlawful practices at work, assert their rights, or complain about discriminatory behavior. Retaliation or victimization usually happens after a hostile work environment has been reported. Suppose the terms of your employment have been negatively affected after you complained about a hostile work environment, supported one of your coworker’s complaints, or were involved in a workplace investigation. In that case, you may be the victim of employment retaliation. 

The Benefits of Discussing Your Case with an Attorney

Speaking to an attorney about the victimization you’ve experienced is one of the best ways to protect yourself. Even if you aren’t sure whether you’ve experienced unlawful victimization due to a hostile work environment, it’s essential to talk to an attorney. An attorney can help you understand whether you have a valid legal claim and develop a strategy for protecting yourself and pursuing compensation.

Discuss Your Workplace Victimization Claim with a Skilled New York Employment Attorney

You aren’t alone if you’ve been victimized for pursuing a hostile work environment claim. Lipsky Lowe LLP is here to help. We will represent your interests and fight for you every step of the way. Our employment attorneys have in-depth knowledge and understanding of anti-retaliation laws. We can help you take the proper steps to pursue a legal claim against your employer. The sooner you speak to an attorney, the better protected you will be as you move forward. Don’t hesitate to contact the New York City employment attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP to schedule a complimentary consultation.