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“Cancel culture” is defined as the practice of withdrawing support for an individual or organization after they have done something that might be considered objectionable. Although cancel culture is usually thought of in terms of social media — where individuals and organizations can be held up to public shaming and even subjected to threats — it can impact the workplace as well. It can create an environment that violates the free exchange of ideas or expression and can also block employees from advancing in their careers. Not only might employers be violating state and federal laws by condoning or facilitating cancel culture; they might also be in violation of their own workplace codes of conduct.
While Connecticut is an “at-will” employment state — meaning an employee can be fired at any time for any reason — adverse actions against employees may be illegal if they signify a bias based on their physical characteristics or beliefs. There are a number of laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace, including Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Equal Pay Act. These laws also prohibit retaliating against an employee who makes a complaint of discrimination or who provides testimony in regard to a complaint. Additionally, Connecticut’s hate crime laws provide enhanced penalties for crimes motivated or influenced by a victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. The victim can also sue for money damages.
Cancel culture may also run afoul of company policies prohibiting harassment and discrimination and requiring employees to treat fellow workers with a certain level of respect. Although the constitutional right to free speech generally doesn’t apply in a private employment setting, employees may legitimately feel they are being treated differently because they have expressed views unpopular with management or with others in the workplace. This can be cause for an internal investigation and for corrective action to be taken if a violation of company policy is discovered.
If you believe that you have been subjected to cancel culture in the workplace, it’s crucial to work with an experienced employment law attorney. At Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C., we provide high-quality representation for Connecticut workers claiming discrimination, wrongful termination and other violations of rights. Please call 203-745-0942 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our office in Hamden or East Haven.
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Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. is located in Hamden, CT and serves clients in and around North Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, Bethany, Milford, Wallingford, Prospect, Woodbridge, Northford, Madison, Beacon Falls, Branford, Cheshire, North Branford, East Haven, Naugatuck, Meriden, Ansonia and New Haven County.
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