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What is an adverse employment action?

When you work in Florida or anywhere else in the United States, federal law prohibits your employer from firing you or retaliating against you in any way whatsoever if and when you report workplace discrimination to your supervisor and/or to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As the EEOC explains, any act on your employer’s part that would inhibit you or your co-workers from reporting discrimination constitutes a prohibited adverse employment action

In addition to termination, the following acts likewise represent adverse employment actions:

  • Reassigning your work duties
  • Taking away your supervisory responsibilities
  • Excessively examining your work
  • Reducing or threatening to reduce your wages or salary
  • Threatening to report you or a member of your family to immigration officials
  • Criticizing you to your co-workers or others, especially in the media

Objective standard

While it would be impossible to catalog a complete list of all the many kinds of possible adverse employment actions, the U.S. Supreme Court nevertheless held that this is an objective standard by which to judge the various retaliatory things your employer might do to you. Bear in mind, however, that adverse employment action cases are fact-dependent. The act that may be an adverse employment action in one case may not be in another.

For instance, the Supreme Court has declared all of the following to be adverse employment actions:

  • Assigning you more work than your co-workers of the same pay grade and/or job description
  • Relocating you to a less desirable job site
  • Holding team lunches to which you are not invited
  • Putting you under surveillance while at work
  • Sabotaging or undermining your work
  • Scheduling your hours or work abusively

While this information is not legal advice, it can help you understand the nature of adverse employment actions and what to expect.

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