When you show up at work each day you are entitled to a safe work environment. You should not feel victimized by unwanted advances or inappropriate behavior, including jokes and innuendo, while on the job. This is considered sexual harassment.
Reporting sexual harassment can be stressful because you have to notify your supervisor and file a report with human resources. Even though your intention is to put a stop to the unwanted behavior it can make things even more awkward and stressful at your workplace.
There are laws at every level of government - federal, state and local - that protect against sexual harassment but even so, workers occasionally face retaliation for reporting sexual harassment and/or filing a claim. If you have lost your job for reporting sexual harassment or for filing a sexual harassment claim, then you may be entitled to compensation.
Is It Legal For My Boss To Fire Me?
You cannot be fired for reporting sexual harassment in your workplace. Any report of sexual harassment must be taken seriously, treated confidentially and investigated to the fullest extent, without fear of retaliation.
Retaliation, in essence, is revenge. In the workplace, retaliation can be any number of things a supervisor or employer can do to “punish” employees. It can be done in response to any number of things in addition to sexual harassment, including making use of the Family Medical Leave Act or filing a complaint against the company.
Employers can use retaliation as a way to intimidate employees and keep them from complaining about sexual harassment or from filing a report. In this sense, the threat of retaliation is used to keep employees in line.
For example, a supervisor might hint that your job is at risk of being eliminated when he finds out that you have been talking about harassment. He might not even mention harassment, because he is hoping you put two and two together.
Being fired (or finding out that your job has been “eliminated”) is a very overt form of retaliation. Other forms of retaliation include being demoted, being passed over for a promotion for which you are qualified, having hours cut or being transferred to another job or location for no reason.
Employers can implement any number of these tactics to keep employees in line, but employees should not feel powerless. Not only are employees protected against sexual harassment, they are also protected against retaliation.
Laws That Protect You
Employees are protected from sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which states that employees cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their sex, race or religion. What’s more is that the law protected anyone involved in the situation, even if the person bringing the complaint is not the person who was directly impacted.
Under the expanded provisions under Title VII, employees are protected against all forms of retaliation for complaining about or reporting sexual harassment. That includes anyone who has filed a complaint, testified in support of a complaint or report or been a participant in a sexual harassment report.
There are also anti-discrimination laws at the state and local level. Title VII applies to any company that employs 15 or more employees, and it serves as the foundation for all anti-discrimination laws. The state and local laws provide additional protection for employees.
How An Employment Lawyer Can Help You
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment and you were fired for filing a report about it, then you could be entitled to compensation. That compensation could include job reinstatement, out of pocket costs, lost wages, legal fees and even emotional distress.
Hiring an employment lawyer can be helpful when it comes to taking action against an employer. You can speak with an attorney ahead of reporting sexual harassment and your lawyer can help walk you through the conversation and gather all of the evidence you need to support the claim and protect yourself from retaliation.
Should retaliation take place, such as losing your job, then an employment attorney can help you to file a complaint against your employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or local and state employment agencies, or he can also help file a private lawsuit. The benefit to having a legal expert working with you is that you will have peace of mind during this incredibly stressful experience. Complete the Free Case Evaluation today.