People often stay quiet out of fear

Believe it or not, a recent study revealed that over half of people haven’t spoken up after witnessing seen sexual harassment in the workplace.

According to the survey by Randstand, “while 51% of both men and women surveyed say they know a woman who has been sexually harassed at work, 50% admit they haven’t spoken up after hearing a colleague make an inappropriate comment about a person of the opposite sex.”

The reason? In cases where sexual harassment is happening to someone else, most people aren’t sure what to do. And, no doubt, a fear of retaliation plays into this as well.

It’s not an unfounded fear. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation is the most common discrimination finding among federal-sector cases.

But sexual harassment doesn’t have to be happening to you specifically in order to make a complaint.  And both filing a charge (even if it’s not about you) and intervening to protect someone from harassment are legally protected activities. If you find yourself being retaliated against, you do have recourse in court.

What Is Retaliation?

If you find your employer doing any of the following things after you’ve reported sexual harassment, you may be a victim of retaliation:

  • Giving you a low performance evaluation
  • Demoting you, transferring you to a less desirable location or job, or changing your schedule to interfere with commitments you have outside of work
  • Scrutinizing your work more closely
  • Holding your work to higher standards than your colleagues’
  • Threatening to report you to authorities
  • Subjecting you to physical or verbal abuse

What Rights Do You Have as a Victim of Retaliation?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits retaliating against any employee for standing up to sexual harassment. Many actions you’d take in response to sexual harassment are actually protected activities under the law, including:

  • Filing a complaint for sexual harassment (whether or not you were the victim), or being a witness to such a charge.
  • Talking about sexual harassment with a supervisor.
  • Answering questions during an investigation of sexual harassment claims.
  • Declining to obey orders that would result in discrimination.
  • Turning down sexual advances.
  • Stepping in to protect someone else from sexual harassment.

If you’re participating in the complaint process, that activity is protected by EEOC law. Other actions you might take are protected as long as you were acting under a reasonable belief that the behavior in question violates EEOC laws.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Not sure what to do about sexual harassment you’ve witnessed in the workplace? Do you suspect your employer may be retaliating against you? If that’s the case, you need a lawyer.

A lawyer who specializes in employment law can help you identify what’s going on, determine your rights, and protect yourself from workplace retaliation. Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at murphy@phillyemploymentlawyer.com for a free, confidential consultation.