What Does California Law Mean by an “Adverse Employment Action”? Get the Facts from an Employment Attorney

A change in your job’s terms and circumstances that puts you in a worse situation is referred to as an adverse employment action. It covers everything from being fired to experiencing a drop in perks, rank, or advancement opportunities. Simple workplace slights are insufficient.

In order to establish a claim of employment discrimination or retaliation, you often need to demonstrate that you had an adverse employment action. Read on to learn more and then contact PLBH at (800) 435-7542 for a legal consultation.

What qualifies as a Title VII-compliant adverse employment action?

The main piece of federal employment legislation is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Discrimination at employment is prohibited. Retaliation for filing a discrimination complaint or asserting your other rights is likewise prohibited. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that for these 2 sorts of instances, the law utilizes different definitions of an adverse employment action.

Due to the fact that Title VII is a federal statute, it is applicable nationwide.


Under Title VII, an employer’s actions must result in a negative employment decision in order to be considered discriminatory. The question in these circumstances is whether you missed out on career chances. A fundamentally unfavorable modification to your job terms qualifies as an adverse employment action under Title VII.

For example, you may be fired, laid off, demoted, have your pay or benefits reduced, be denied promotion or have a job offer withdrawn. Setbacks at work do not always qualify as Title VII-protected adverse employment actions.

Failures that do not constitute an adverse employment action include, for instance, giving you undesirable tasks even though they fall under the purview of your job description, not nominating you for a workplace award, sending you to counseling due to subpar performance reviews, adding a written reprimand to your personnel file, removing your supervisory responsibilities without altering your position or pay, relocating you to a different city while maintaining your title and pay, and threatening you with future reprimands or transfers.


Your employer must have taken a “materially unfavorable action” in order for their actions to qualify as retaliation under Title VII. Compared to accusations of discrimination, this standard is lower and simpler to meet. The emphasis here is not on the opportunities you lost in the workplace. Instead, it focuses on whether your employer’s actions would have discouraged you from filing a discrimination claim or from aiding in it.

If you have been the victim of retaliation or discrimination, contact PLBH at (800) 435-7542 to find out of what you went through legally constitutes an adverse employment action.