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Can My Boss Retaliate Against Me if I File a Sexual Harassment Complaint?

Can My Boss Retaliate Against Me if I File a Sexual Harassment Complaint?

Unfortunately, many of us have heard horror stories about sexual harassment in the workplace, whether it be from a family member, a fellow co-worker, a friend, or even through online anecdotes. This type of inappropriate behavior can range from a sexist remark to unwanted touches and sexual advances. Regardless of how aggressive the harassment is, you have a right to file a complaint if it happens to you.

However, it is not uncommon for people to be afraid of filing this type of complaint out of concern for retaliation. You are protected by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) even if your claim is later deemed unfounded, as long as it was made in good faith. Not only is this right protected, but so is any other individual or witness who cooperates with the investigation.

Different Types of Sexual Harassment

Given the climate we are in today, we are all generally aware of what sexual harassment is, but did you know that it can be broken down into two separate categories?

Here are the two different types of sexual harassment that can occur in the workplace:

  • Quid Pro Quo: This Latin phrase literally translates to “something for something.” In this context, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when someone in an authoritative or powerful position makes an offer in return for a sexual favor. The perpetrator can also threaten demotion or negatively impact the victim’s position as an employee if he or she refuses to perform the sexual favor.
  • Hostile Work Environment: In this context, a hostile work environment can include behavior that is distracting and involves frequent sexual advances, comments, and even quid pro quo requests. It must also be persistent rather than a single, isolated event. Moreover, unlike quid pro quo sexual harassment, hostile work environments do not need to be directed at the person making the complaint.

What is Considered Retaliation?

It can be a little difficult to detect when an employer might be retaliating against an employee. If you recently filed a sexual harassment complaint and your boss suddenly starts behaving more professionally towards you, but seems to be far less friendly, this is not considered retaliation since it does not have a negative impact on your employment.

However, if your boss fires you and claims that you are not a team player a few days after you filed a sexual harassment claim against him or her, this is a pretty transparent case of employer retaliation. That said, not every act of retaliation is necessarily that extreme. Some acts of retaliation might be subtler, such as an unfair performance review or exclusion from important meetings regarding a project you are part of.

What Should I Do?

Do you think your employer is retaliating against you? You should file a complaint in writing to your immediate supervisor or to a representative in the human resources department to discuss any suspected acts of retaliation. You should also hire a sexual harassment attorney to handle your case and help ensure your rights are protected, especially since it is likely your boss will deny any accusations regarding retaliation.

It would also be helpful for you to keep a sexual harassment log to document these incidents. Our memories tend to fade and it might be difficult to accurately remember certain details, so keeping a detailed and updated journal will help build a much stronger case. Make sure you record incidents of sexual harassment as soon as you can, even if you are still trying to decide if it warrants filing a claim.

Here are some of the things you should consider writing about when recording an incident in your journal:

  • Touching or sexual contact
  • Offensive comments or conversations
  • Sexual incidents at work
  • Inappropriate memos or emails you received
  • Details regarding any complaints you made, including any responses you received

Speak to a Workplace Sexual Harassment Attorney Today!

If you were sexually harassed at work, you do not have to tolerate this inappropriate behavior in silence. You have a right to file a complaint without fear of retaliation from your employer. At Manukyan Law Firm, our workplace sexual harassment attorneys will help you protect your rights and treat you with the respect and compassion you deserve.

Call our office at (818) 934-4172 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss the details of your case.

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