Sexual harassment in the workplace can be frustrating and frightening. The idea that someone in a position of power and authority over you is making unwanted sexual advances can make you fearful about your future. You are sure that this behavior is illegal. You decide to file a complaint with Human Resources, but you then notice that things are taking a turn at work. Suddenly, you are reassigned from a project you enjoyed and were making great progress on, or you are moved to a different department, or given a difficult schedule or shift. What now?
The law is on your side, but you must know your rights
Sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment can be in the form of unwanted sexual attention, requests for dates or sexual favors, verbal or physical actions of a sexual nature that either implicitly or explicitly affect a person’s work, and/or creates a hostile or offensive work environment.
Filing a sexual harassment complaint is a legally protected action. If your employer or supervisor retaliates against you after having engaged in a legally protected action, it violates California and federal law. These laws are in place to protect employees from retaliation for reporting discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
What does retaliation look like?
The EEOC reports that retaliation is the most common discrimination finding in federal sector cases. According to the EEOC, “a manager may not fire, demote, harass or otherwise ‘retaliate’ against an individual for filing a complaint of discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination.”
Things such as being reassigned to an unfavorable shift, or suddenly being removed from a project, are not actionable on their own. However, when these types of actions occur because the employee has filed a complaint for sexual harassment, then it may be an act of retaliation – and that is illegal.
What can you do if you think you are dealing with retaliation?
In California, you have several options for filing a complaint about retaliation and discrimination, but your first step should be to report the offensive behavior to your supervisor and/or the Human Resources department, and follow the guidelines in your employee handbook or given by HR. If you wish to file a civil lawsuit, you can consult with a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney.
If you have experienced sexual assault or harassment, the Los Angeles attorneys at Taylor & Ring are here to pursue justice on your behalf. We fight for compensation for your trauma and losses, so you can begin to heal. You are welcome to speak with our lawyers today at 310.776.6390 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.