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  • Daniel Rodriguez

Adverse Employment Actions - What are they?

If you feel you're facing unfair treatment at your workplace, you may be suffering from an adverse employment action. An adverse employment action refers to any change in the terms and conditions of your job that puts you in a worse position. Trivial workplace slights are not adverse employment actions for discrimination or retaliation cases.

You must demonstrate that you suffered an adverse employment action to establish an employment discrimination or retaliation claim. Let's delve into what constitutes an adverse employment action under Title VII and California state law and how it's essential in certain employment cases.

worker stressed because of an adverse employment action

Adverse Employment Action under Title VII

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a crucial federal employment law prohibiting workplace discrimination and retaliation. The law defines adverse employment actions differently for these two types of cases:

Discrimination Cases

In Title VII discrimination cases, the focus is on whether you lost opportunities in the workplace due to your protected status. Adverse employment actions include material changes in your employment terms, such as discharge, layoff, demotion, reduction in salary or benefits, refusal to promote you, or rescinding a job offer.

Retaliation Cases

For Title VII retaliation claims, the standard for an adverse employment action is lower. The focus shifts to whether your employer's conduct would have dissuaded you from making a discrimination claim or assisting in one.

Adverse Employment Action under California State Law

California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also prohibits workplace discrimination and retaliation. Unlike Title VII, the FEHA doesn't differentiate between discrimination and retaliation claims when defining adverse employment actions. Under the FEHA, an adverse employment action is any course of conduct that materially and adversely affects your employment's terms, conditions, or privileges.

Examples of adverse employment actions under the FEHA include wrongful termination, demotion, employer harassment, being placed on administrative leave, unjustified poor performance evaluations, and other actions that impair your job performance or advancement opportunities.

Importance in Employment Cases

Adverse employment actions play a crucial role in two types of employment cases:

Discrimination Cases

To succeed in a discrimination case, you must show that your employer made an adverse employment action because you belong to a protected class (e.g., based on race, gender, religion, etc.).

Retaliation Cases

In retaliation claims, you must demonstrate that the adverse action occurred because you engaged in protected activities, such as making discrimination claims, participating in political activities, filing workers' compensation claims, or blowing the whistle on unlawful practices.

Proving Adverse Employment Actions

Proving an adverse employment action involves showing that it significantly impacted your employment experience. You can do this by comparing your job conditions before and after the employment decision. Factors such as salary, work hours, benefits, job title, duties, and chances of promotion are crucial in this assessment.

To effectively navigate legal complexities and build a strong case, it's advisable to seek legal counsel from a reputable law firm. An experienced employment lawyer can provide invaluable advice and representation to help you protect your rights and pursue justice against your employer.

Remember, understanding adverse employment actions is a crucial step toward seeking appropriate legal recourse and safeguarding your rights in the workplace.


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