Can My Employer Fire Me for Reporting Sexual Harassment?
Reporting Harassment Is a Protected Activity Under Title VII
If you report sexual harassment in the workplace, it is unlawful for your employer to fire you. However, this does happen. It’s called retaliation, and unfortunately it’s fairly common.
In 2020, retaliation was the most common reason people filed discrimination claims with the EEOC.
Here’s an overview of your rights under the law, and what to do if your employer unlawfully fires you for reporting sexual harassment.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment can be overt or subtle. Some people don’t realize that the behavior they’re dealing with in the workplace is sexual harassment, or that it’s unlawful.
Some examples of sexual harassment include:
- Requests for dates or sexual favors
- Unwanted advances, unwanted touching and physical assault
- Negative comments about a group based on their gender or sexual orientation
- Implicitly or explicitly requiring sexual favors for workplace advancement
- Verbal harassment, including jokes about sex acts
- Bringing up inappropriate topics at work such as sex acts or sexual fantasies
- Asking personal questions about your sex life
- Sexually explicit emails, photos, or text messages
Protected Activities Under the Law
Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Reporting it is a protected activity that you should be allowed to do without fear of retaliation.
Under Title VII, not only should you be allowed to report sexual harassment without fear of retaliation, you should also be allowed to take other protected actions such as:
- Testifying in court
- Participating in peaceful protest against discrimination
- Assisting in a Title VII investigation (even if the charges are later judged invalid)
- Refusing a discriminatory order
- Filing a charge of sexual harassment
What Can Retaliation Look Like?
Retaliation may involve firing, but it can also include other actions taken against you in the workplace, such as:
- Negative evaluations, warnings, or other disciplinary actions that are otherwise unjustified
- Demotions and reductions in salary
- Denying you a promotion
- Changes to less desirable job duties, hours, location, shift or schedule
- Hostility in the workplace
What To Do if Your Employer Fires You for Reporting Sexual Harassment
If you’ve reported sexual harassment in the workplace and your employer has taken an action against you—included but not limited to firing—you have legal options. Get in touch with a knowledgeable Philadelphia employment attorney for help.
Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, confidential consultation today.
The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.