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Seven Signs of Employment Retaliation You Should Watch For

Employment retaliation is when an employer takes action against an employee for reporting violations of labor or employment law, such as discrimination or harassment. Every employee is supposed to be legally protected against this behavior, but this does not stop dishonest employers from engaging in potentially illegal action against employees who report their misbehavior. Here are seven signs of employment retaliation you should watch out for:


  • Getting fired

    • By far the most obvious way an employer may retaliate against an employee for reporting legal violations is to fire them. This helps them to remove a “problem” employee, even if it is illegal for them to do so.

  • Reduced pay or benefits

    • Instead of firing an employee who reports labor or employment violations, they may choose to retaliate by cutting pay or benefits. Victims of employment retaliation may see their paychecks cut, their vacation or sick days reduced, and other potential signs of retribution.

  • Denied raises or benefits

    • A more subtle way employers may retaliate against an employee is by denying them raises, vacation time, or other benefits. This means that employees who might otherwise be entitled to better pay or benefits cannot access it, even if they might normally be entitled to it by law or as a result of their employment contract.

  • Denied training or promotions

    • Likewise, an employer may engage in employment retaliation by denying an employee access to professional training or promotions. Without this access, an employee will find themselves stuck in a dead-end position, unable to advance further in the company.

  • Disproportionate punishment

    • Another way employers may retaliate against employees is by punishing them disproportionately for minor offenses. What might normally get a warning instead gets formally written up, and what might normally get a light punishment instead results in serious professional consequences.

  • Worsened performance reviews

    • Another form of employment retaliation comes in the form of worsened performance reviews. Even if you have not done anything wrong, you may find that you get heavier criticism on your reviews, which can become justification for further measures.

  • Increasingly hostile work environment

    • Sometimes, there is no one specific act that leads to employment retaliation. Instead, it is an increasingly hostile work environment, with people treating you with less courtesy or respect than they previously did. In such cases, it may be necessary to consult a lawyer with experience handling employment law cases.

Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 43 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or

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