Retaliation After a Complaint of Sexual Harassment

Protect Your Rights from Employment Discrimination in a New York Workplace

It can be challenging both emotionally and professionally to file a sexual harassment complaint against your employer. Companies are not permitted to retaliate against you for a claim or complaint of sexual harassment, but unfortunately some employers do retaliate, either because they do not know the law or do not expect you to complain about the retaliation. The experienced employment discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates can help you seek protection from or damages for retaliation after you complain about sexual harassment in a New York workplace.

What Counts as Retaliation?

Retaliation includes firing, demoting, harassing, or taking another adverse action against an employee based on his or her exercise of a protected activity, like opposing sexual harassment or participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. An adverse action is one that would tend to prevent reasonable people from exercising their rights, such as making threats, offering unjustified poor performance evaluations or references, and increasing surveillance on an employee. However, petty slights, snubs, or negative justified comments do not count as adverse actions.

Protected activities can include actions such as complaining about sexual harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or assisting with a sexual harassment investigation. It also includes telling your employer you believe that it has engaged in sexual harassment against you, protesting in opposition to sexual harassment against somebody else, complaining about the sexual harassment of another person, and threatening to file a sexual harassment suit. However, actions that interfere with your job performance so that you are ineffective are generally not protected, nor are unlawful activities, such as threatening violence against someone for sexually harassing you.

Federal, state, and local laws protect workers against retaliation after filing a sexual harassment complaint. These protections are built into Title VII, and they stay in place even if the EEOC or the court finds that an employee was not sexually harassed, as long as the employee had a good faith belief that he or she was. It is even illegal for a worker's current employer to retaliate against him or her for pursuing an EEOC claim against a former employer. Although retaliation is illegal, employees are not excused from following legitimate rules of the job because they have opposed sexual harassment.

It is not only the victim of sexual harassment who is protected against retaliation after a complaint of sexual harassment. Individuals with a close association with the person who complained about the illegal conduct are also covered. For example, it is illegal under federal law to terminate an employee because his or her spouse filed a complaint of sexual harassment.

Consult a New York Attorney for Your Sexual Harassment Claim

Claims of retaliation may be woven into discrimination complaints against your employer, or they may form a separate lawsuit. The law recognizes how difficult it is to register a complaint about an employer, especially one of a sensitive nature. The sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates are aggressive advocates for New York employees who have been retaliated against because they complained, informally or formally, about sexual harassment. Contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form.