What is an adverse employment action?

| Oct 25, 2019 | Firm News |

You undoubtedly have heard the word whistleblower bandied about in recent years. But do you know what a whistleblower is? In terms of your Michigan employment, you become a whistleblower when you report illegal activities of your company to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or others.

The EEOC reports that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act includes protections that forbid your employer from taking any retaliatory actions, called adverse employment actions, against you if and when you choose to become a whistleblower.

Sample adverse employment actions

Neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor any law has ever precisely defined what constitutes an adverse employment action. However, SCOTUS has, over the years, deemed the following to qualify:

  • Terminating your employment
  • Reducing your salary or wages or threatening to do so
  • Rescinding your supervisory duties or threatening to do so
  • Reassigning your employment duties or threatening to do so
  • Reporting you or a family member to immigration officials or threatening to do so
  • Criticizing you in the media or other public setting

Objective standard

Regardless of the fact that no one-size-fits-all definition exists, SCOTUS has declared that adverse employment action nevertheless represents an objective standard by which employers are judged on a case-by-case basis. SCOTUS has also included the following among the many things it has labeled adverse employment actions:

  • Surveiling or excessively monitoring you at your workplace
  • Abusively scheduling your work hours
  • Relocating you to a less desirable job location or site
  • Assigning you more work than others sharing your job description or pay grade
  • Refusing to invite you to work team lunches when you serve as a member of the team

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