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Retaliation After Reporting Sexual Harassment: How You Should Deal with It?

Retaliation after a sexual harassment complaint.

Sexual harassment is not something that anyone should face. However, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, more than 80% of women and 40% of men experience sexual harassment at some point. Most instances of sexual harassment occur in the workplace.

Reporting sexual harassment is your right. Employers cannot take any action against you for doing so. However, that does not mean that they won’t. Employers may not understand their obligations under state and federal employment laws. Or, they may try to force you out by making your life more difficult. The bottom line is that when employers retaliate against an employee for reporting sexual harassment, they are violating the law and should be held accountable.

If you are experiencing sexual harassment, contact the dedicated workplace harassment lawyers at the D’Amore Law Group. We have decades of combined experience holding employers accountable for retaliating against employees for exercising their legal rights. You should never have to endure a hostile work environment or be afraid to report it to your employer.

Steps to Take When Experiencing Sexual Harassment

If a supervisor or another employee harasses you at work, you should immediately take steps to stop the behavior. However, understandably, this puts you in a difficult position. On one hand, you value your job and do not want to do anything to jeopardize your position. On the other hand, sexual harassment can take a major toll on your ability to do your job, your safety, and your mental peace. Not to mention, it is reprehensible and against the law.

If you experience sexual harassment at work, the first thing to do is report the conduct to your employer. You should feel confident that doing so will not result in any action being taken against you. However, if your employer does retaliate against you, it’s time to reach out to an experienced sexual abuse attorney to discuss your options.

Below are a few important things to keep in mind anytime you report sexual harassment or feel as though your employer is retaliating against you.

Recognize Illegal Conduct

Most employees will experience sexual harassment at some point in their careers. However, few report it. In part, this is because there is widespread misinformation about what constitutes sexual harassment and when uncomfortable conversation crosses the line into illegal conduct.

There are two types of sexual harassment claims: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo loosely translates to “this for that.” This type of sexual harassment occurs when a party in a position of power (a boss or supervisor) makes some benefit of employment contingent upon an employee doing something they would otherwise never do. For example, assume you ask your boss for a raise. Your boss acknowledges your good performance. But they tell you that there is another equally qualified employee who is also asking for a raise. Your boss then tells you that you could help “persuade” them by being their date to an upcoming fundraiser. This is an example of quid pro quo harassment because your raise is contingent upon accompanying your boss to the fundraiser.

The other type of workplace sexual harassment relates to a hostile work environment. Supervisors have an obligation to refrain from harassment themselves and to stop employees from engaging in harassing conduct. Typically, a hostile work environment is one where the harassment is “severe and pervasive.” Thus, a one-time insult by a fellow employee may not rise to the level of a hostile work environment.

Document Everything

Whenever you communicate with your supervisor about any form of sexual harassment, it is critical to leave a paper trail. Employers often act on a whim, not thinking about the long-term consequences of their actions. Thus, employers may make the wrong decision, say the wrong thing, or discipline the wrong party. However, when an employer later learns of their mistake, they may try to cover their tracks by denying their actions.

If you have emails, text messages, voicemails, or other documentation of an employer’s actions, you are in a much better position. Often, savvy employers may try to communicate over the phone in hopes of keeping the conversation “off the record.” One way to get around this tactic is to send a follow-up email afterward, summarizing the conversation. This way, you have documentation of the conversation.

Reach Out to an Attorney

If you reported sexual harassment at work and your boss took action against you, contact an employment law attorney. It is important to remember that adverse action can include a wide range of consequences other than being fired. For example, the following are all types of prohibited adverse employment actions:

  • Reducing your pay;
  • Disqualifying you for a bonus;
  • Transferring you to a less desirable position;
  • Reducing your hours;
  • Assigning you extra work; or
  • Excluding you from certain meetings, gatherings, or training.

If you suspect that a recent change in your employment was due to reporting sexual harassment, speak to an attorney. They can help you understand your rights and how to pursue them.

Contact the D’Amore Law Group for Immediate Assistance

If your employer recently fired you or took any other type of adverse action against you for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace, reach out to D’Amore Law Group. Your employer may be in violation of state and federal employment laws. At the D’Amore Law Group, our dedicated team of sexual abuse and harassment lawyers command an impressive knowledge of the laws governing these claims. We understand the importance of having a safe and peaceful workplace and we work tirelessly to advance employee rights at every opportunity. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our Oregon employment law lawyers, give us a call at 503-222-6333 today. You can also reach us through our online form, and one of our lawyers will be in touch with you soon.

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