One of the biggest reasons a person may be hesitant in bringing a sexual harassment or discrimination complaint against an employer is the fear of retaliation. Yes, you might have heard some talk that retaliatory action by an employer in these situations is illegal. However, you may still have concerns. What is the extent of this protection? Will the law actually cover my situation? At Tand and Associates, we have these answers for you.
What Protections Are in Place If I File a Sexual Harassment Claim Against My Employer?
There are laws at the federal, state and local level in place to protect you against retaliation from your employer should you choose to proceed in filing a sexual harassment complaint. At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects an employee’s rights after filing a sexual harassment claim. On a more local level, New York City has enacted the Human Rights Act which includes even more stringent protections against employer retaliation. Not only does the Human Rights Act provide a broader definition of what is considered retaliatory action, but it also reflects the fact that employers do not always retaliate with an ultimatum or a material change in the terms of the claimant’s terms of employment. Sometimes retaliation is subtler.
The bottom line is that companies are not allowed to retaliate against you for:
- Filing a sexual harassment complaint with the EEOC;
- Assisting with a sexual harassment investigation;
- Reporting experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace to your employer;
- Supporting another employer claiming to be a victim of sexual harassment; or
- Disclosing your plans to file a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Those closely associated, including a spouse, to a person involved in these protected activities are also provided with protection against retaliation.
Retaliatory action may include:
- Job termination
- Harassment and threats
- Increased surveillance of the employee
- Unmerited poor performance reviews
It is important to be aware of the fact that Title VII retaliation protection will stay in place regardless of whether there is a finding by a court or the EEOC that an employee was not sexually harassed. If an employee had a good faith belief that he or she was the victim of sexual harassment, that will be enough to secure Title VII protections. However, proving that an action was retaliatory can be difficult. Your employer may try to come up with a different reason to justify the adverse action taken against you. If there is any documentation or written communications you can secure that show your employer’s motive, this can be crucial to substantiating the allegation that you were the victim of retaliation. Additionally, if you can show that you were treated differently from other, similarly situated employees, this can be strong evidence as well.
Supporting Those Bringing Sexual Harassment Claims.
Bringing a sexual harassment claim can require mustering up a great deal of courage. Tand & Associates is here to support you through this journey. If you suspect that you have been the victim of retaliatory action by your employer due to a sexual harassment complaint, our dedicated attorneys are here to stand by your side and help ensure your legal rights are always protected.