What is an adverse employment action?

California law states that an adverse employment action is anything the employer does that “materially and adversely affected the terms, conditions or privileges” of a worker’s employment. The most serious adverse employment actions are firing the employee, or refusing to hire an applicant. Demoting and cutting a worker’s pay, or denying promotion may also seriously affect the employee’s work conditions.

Other types of negative treatment may possibly be considered adverse employment actions under the law, however they are less drastic to the extent they do not cause the sudden loss of income that would result from termination. Such actions are not prohibited by law in and of themselves, and may not form the basis of a strong legal case unless there is other evidence of discrimination or harassment:

  • Transferring an employee to a less-desirable position;
  • Changing an employee’s work shifts;
  • Increasing the level of supervision or surveillance over an employee;
  • Undermining an employee’s work;
  • Assigning a disproportionate amount of work employee when compared to others in the same position;
  • Excluding an employee from team meetings that others in the employee’s position were invited to.

Employers cannot take an adverse employment action against employees based on certain characteristics, including:

  • Race
  • National Origin
  • Color
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation or identity
  • Family status
  • Religion
  • Military status
  • Pregnancy
  • Disability or Medical Condition

An employer is prohibited from considering any of the above when making an employment decision that adversely impacts an employee. If you believe your employer has taken a serious adverse action against you because of your protective class, contact the McCormack Law Firm for a free consultation.

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