What Constitutes Retaliation After a Sexual Harassment Complaint?
Anyone who has experienced sexual harassment at work will tell you that it takes a great deal of courage to report the harassment. Victims of discrimination or harassment may worry that their supervisors and colleagues will not believe them or even resent them for reporting the unlawful mistreatment. An even greater fear is that reporting sexual harassment will get them demoted or fired. Fortunately, Illinois law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file sexual harassment complaints. However, recognizing the actions or behaviors that may be considered retaliation is not always easy.
Understanding Sexual Harassment Laws
Sexual harassment is a form of sex-based discrimination prohibited by The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and several other federal and state laws. A worker creates a hostile work environment when he or she repeatedly makes derogatory comments, remarks, or jokes about a person’s body, sexuality, or gender. Displaying sexually explicit material in the workplace, making repeated unwanted sexual advances, and touching others without consent may also be considered sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves a person of authority trading sexual contact for work-related benefits or continued employment. If you have been a victim of hostile work environment harassment or quid pro quo harassment, you have a legal right to report this harassment. Your employer is required to address the harassment and ensure that it does not continue to happen.
“Getting Even” With an Employee Who Reported Sexual Harassment
An employer cannot “punish” an employee who complained about sexual harassment. Most people assume that retaliation involves being fired after reporting harassment or discrimination, but many other actions can constitute retaliation as well, including:
Demoting the employee to a lower position
Reducing the employee’s salary
Giving the employee an unwarranted poor performance review
Refusing to give the employee a merited raise or promotion
Disallowing the employee to attend training opportunities
Reassigning the employee to a less desirable assignment or role
Changing the employee’s work schedule to one that is less desirable
Some forms of retaliation are obvious. If an employee has had an exceptional work history and is suddenly terminated after reporting sexual harassment, it may be easy to prove retaliation. However, if an employee is assigned a work schedule that conflicts with his or her ability to care for children, it may be harder to prove that this reassignment was intentional and designed to punish the employee.
Contact a DuPage County Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Employers cannot retaliate against an employee who complains about sexual harassment. If you were subject to negative consequences after reporting harassment or discrimination in the workplace, you may be a victim of retaliation. Contact the skilled professionals at MKFM Law to learn about your legal options. Call us today at 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation with a knowledgeable Illinois sexual harassment attorney.