What is an adverse employment action?

What is an adverse employment action?

| Aug 7, 2019 | Firm News |

As a California worker, you likely already know that if you report company misdeeds to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, your employer cannot retaliate against you in any manner. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title VII, grants you protection against such retaliation tactics, calling them adverse employment actions.

As the EEOC itself explains, adverse employment actions can take a variety of forms, including the following:

  • Reducing or threaten to reduce the amount of your salary or wages
  • Reassigning your employment duties to one of your colleagues
  • Relieving you of your supervisory duties
  • Over-examining or over-monitoring your work
  • Threatening to report you or one of your family members to immigration authorities in an effort to get you or them deported
  • Criticizing you in public and/or in the media

Objective standard

Not surprisingly, no single definition exists for what constitutes an adverse employment action. Regardless of this fact, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that adverse employment action represents an objective standard by which to judge any retaliatory action your employer takes against you.

You should keep in mind, however, that this lack of a precise definition leaves courts to find adverse employment action on a case-by-case basis depending on the circumstances involved. While this may leave you in a somewhat Twilight Zone situation when attempting to prove that your employer did indeed retaliate against you, you should know that SCOTUS has declared all of the following to fall under the adverse employment action umbrella:

  • Surveiling an employee at work
  • Abusively scheduling an employee’s work or hours
  • Relocating an employee to a less favorable job site
  • Assigning an employee excessive work in comparison to the work performed by other employees doing the same job or working at the same pay grade
  • Sabotaging an employee’s work
  • Refusing to invite a member of a company work team to team lunches

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.