What to do about retaliation in the workplace?

I reported my manager to HR for harassing behavior 5 months ago. Then 2 months later I received an employee evaluation with false statements (that can be proved false ) and disparaging comments about my character and performance (all of which was untrue). I reached out to HR advising of the retaliation and expressed fear of losing my job. This was not addressed and I was terminated without given any reason. I had an at will contract; does this mean I do not have a wrongful termination case?

Asked on July 12, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Normally, an employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason. However, he or she cannot be fired as retaliation for reporting a claim of discrimination. Not all harassing behavior is discrimination: the law protects against harassment or discrimination on the basis of certain specific categories, such as race, religion, age over 40, sex, disability (federal law), or ancestry, national origin, family status, gender identification or sexual orientation, marital status, civil union status, and certain inherited or genetic traits (NJ law). If you were harassed because of one or more of these traits or characteristics, then if you were retaliated against for reporting it, that would be illegal and you may have a legal claim; in this event, you should contact the NJ Division of Civil Rights.

However, employers may harass employees for any reason not specifically protected by law. So if your manager, for example, didn't like your opinions, your politics, your hobbies, or simply didn't like you, then there is no protection, and you may be "retaliated" against for reporting the manager's actions.

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