Five ways to address an adverse employment decision

Frank S. Clowney III

If you’re subjected to an adverse employment action, such as demotion, a changed work assignment, a pay cut, or termination, then your employer is going to do everything within its power to try to justify that action. But you shouldn’t just sit back and accept whatever explanation your employer gives. Instead, you should question every move that your employer makes, preparing to defend yourself in hopes of securing a fair outcome, which may include recovering compensation or getting your job back.

How do you defend against an adverse employment decision?

Depending on the facts at hand, there may be several ways to approach your case. Let’s look at a few of them here:

  • Gather your performance records to show contradictions: Once you know the justification for the adverse employment action, go back to your performance appraisals and other communications pertaining to your work to see if they contradict what your employer is using as its reasoning for acting against you. If you have positive emails from your supervisor and your performance appraisals are complimentary, then you may need to start considering if your employer had other reasons for making its decision.
  • Secure evidence of retaliation: If the negative action was taken against you after you filed a complaint with your employer, then you need to gather evidence that shows that. This includes the actual complaint that was made as well as any correspondence that you had with your supervisor or your employer’s human resources department.
  • Keep a journal: It can be hard to remember everything that happens in a workplace, which can make it difficult to recall important events if you end up pursuing legal action. This can jeopardize your case. Therefore, it may be helpful for you to keep a journal of every incident that impacts your work, including instances of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination. Make sure that you notate the time, location, and context of each event.
  • Ask if you were put on notice: Before an adverse employment action is taken against you, your employer should put you on notice of what the issue was and give you an opportunity to correct it. This usually comes in the form of progressive discipline, where you’re given multiple times to try to remedy whatever issue it is that your employer sees as problematic. If you weren’t given those opportunities, then you may have a stronger argument for wrongful termination.
  • Consider disparate impact: If the action that was taken against you was due to some sort of policy or practice at the company, then you may want to look at others who were affected to consider whether the policy or practice disproportionately affected those of a particular class. If so, then you may be able to argue that the policy or practice was discriminatory and that you’ve been negatively affected by it.

Be prepared to stand up to your employer

Being subjected to an adverse employment decision can be a punch in the gut. As a result, a lot of people who find themselves in this position are too ashamed to take action. Don’t let that be you. If you suspect that you’ve been wronged, then you owe it to yourself to look into the matter further.

Law firms like ours are here to help. So, if you want to learn more about how the law applies to your situation and whether you have an argument for wrongful termination, workplace discrimination, or retaliation, then please think about discussing the facts of your case with one of these law firms.