What Should I Do If My Employer Retaliated Against Me for Reporting Sexual Harassment?
Most people know that sexual harassment is against the law. However, many do not realize that it is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting sexual harassment. Retaliation can take many different forms, but most involve the employee receiving some type of negative work-related consequence. If an employer retaliates against an employee for filing a sexual harassment complaint, the employee may be entitled to damages.
You Have a Right to Oppose Unlawful Practices
Equal Employment Opportunity laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report EEO violations. It is unlawful for an employer to take adverse action against a job applicant or employee who:
- Complains or threatens to complain about sexual harassment or discrimination
- Refuses to follow an order that is reasonably thought to be discriminatory
- Gathers information or evidence from coworkers about a potential EEO claim or
- Participates in an investigation into alleged sexual harassment or discrimination
When someone is the victim of sexual harassment, including hostile work environment harassment or quid pro quo harassment, he or she has a legal right to report the harassment. Whether it is a verbal complaint or a formal report with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, reporting sexual harassment is a protected act.
Examples of Employer Retaliation
Employer retaliation can include a number of different actions. Examples of actions that may constitute unlawful retaliation include:
- Refusing to hire the job applicant
- Terminating the employee or threatening to terminate the employee
- Denying the employee a merited promotion
- Reducing the employee’s work hours
- Changing an employee’s work schedule to a less desirable shift
- Making an employee’s work environment more disagreeable
- Demoting the employee to a lower rank or position
- Giving the employee an unfounded poor performance evaluation
- Giving the employee unwarranted negative references
It is crucial to note that an employee is not protected from justifiable work consequences. For example, if an employee reports sexual harassment but is then caught stealing company property, terminating the employee would not be considered retaliatory.
Damages in a Sexual Harassment Claim
If an employer retaliates against an employee for reporting an EEO violation, the employee may be entitled to damages. These may include the lost pay and benefits the employee would have otherwise received, lost future earnings, and compensatory damages for emotional distress or harm to the employee’s reputation. If an employer acted with reckless indifference or malice, the employee may also be entitled to punitive damages. The employer may also be required to compensate the employee for attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses.
Contact an Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawyer
Federal, state, and local laws prohibit sexual harassment and retaliation against employees who report it. If you have been the victim of retaliation, contact Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC for help. Schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced DuPage County sexual harassment attorney by calling us at 630-665-7300 today.