Retaliation After a Complaint of Sexual Harassment on Long Island
Most people are referring to Nassau and Suffolk Counties when they speak about Long Island. The total population of Nassau County between 2011 and 2015 was about 1.4 million, of which slightly over half were female. The total population of Suffolk County in the same time period was about 1.5 million, and it was distributed almost exactly evenly between male and female. Many people understandably suspect that if they complain about sexual harassment to HR, they will get fired, passed over for a promotion, or treated adversely with regard to another term or condition of employment. Both Title VII and the New York State Human Rights Law, which prohibit sexual harassment, also prohibit retaliation for engaging in a protected activity, such as filing a complaint of sexual harassment. At Phillips & Associates, our Long Island retaliation attorneys may be able to help you recover damages for mistreatment caused by a legitimate effort to exercise your rights.Retaliation After a Complaint of Sexual Harassment
All Long Island employers are covered by the New York State Human Rights Law when it comes to sexual harassment. Under the New York State Human Rights Law, retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse actions against an employee that would have the effect of dissuading a reasonable person from filing or supporting a charge of harassment. Actionable retaliation can occur even after you are no long employed by your employer. For example, if you file a charge of sexual harassment with the EEOC after being terminated for not acquiescing to quid pro quo harassment from your supervisor, and then your supervisor provides undeserved negative references about you to prospective employers, this would likely be considered retaliation under the New York State Human Rights Law.
However, adverse actions are not retaliatory only because they happen in time after you engaged in a protected activity. Timing can be relevant, but you are still required to abide by any job requirements after complaining to HR, filing a charge with the EEOC, or filing a federal or state lawsuit. Your lawyer needs to be able to show a causal connection between the protected activity of complaining about sexual harassment and the retaliatory actions.EEOC Guidance on Retaliation Under Title VII
The EEOC has explained that exercising your right to be free from employment discrimination, such as sexual harassment, is a protected activity. It is illegal, therefore, for your employer to take adverse actions against you for filing a charge or being a witness in an EEOC investigation, for informing a supervisor or manager about sexual harassment, for answering questions during an investigation of sexual harassment, for refusing to obey orders that would result in sexual harassment, or for fending off sexual advances or intervening to help others fend off unwelcome sexual advances.
Generally, participating in the charge process is protected from retaliation. As with state law, employers can still discipline or terminate a worker if they are motivated by non-retaliatory reasons that would result in such consequences. On the other hand, an employer is not allowed to do anything in response to EEOC activity that would cause someone to not complain about sexual harassment in the future, even if the employee does not successfully establish sexual harassment under Title VII.
For example, it could be retaliation for an employer to respond to an employee filing a charge with the EEOC by giving a performance evaluation that is lower than it should be. For another example, it would be retaliation against your coworker if your coworker spoke to an EEOC investigator on your behalf about sexual harassment that she witnessed against you, and as a result, she was reprimanded or passed over for a promotion that she had been promised. Similarly, it would be retaliation if your employer threatened you with reporting your immigration status or canceling your spouse's contract with the company because you complained about sexual harassment.Seek Guidance from an Experienced Long Island Attorney
At Phillips & Associates, we may be able to help you obtain damages if you were subject to retaliation after a complaint of sexual harassment on Long Island. We offer free consultations. There are no upfront fees and we accept cases on a contingency basis, so you will not need to pay attorneys' fees unless we recover damages in your case. Contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form.
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