Harassment |
January 19, 2017

Lawyer San Francisco: Are You Being Punished for Complaining About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Sexual Harassment Complaints

A sexual harassment lawyer can help employees seek justice when they experience retaliation for opposing unlawful practices in the workplace

California and federal law prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who complain about sexual harassment at work. The same laws protect the rights of employees who help another worker bring a sexual harassment complaint. A sexual harassment lawyer at San Francisco’s Minnis & Smallets can help victims of retaliation pursue justice.

Opposing sexual harassment in the workplace is every employee’s right. Yet employees are too often fired or disciplined for exercising that right. It is important for employees and employers alike to understand that it is unlawful to punish an employee for opposing sexual harassment in the workplace.

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Complaints by Sexual Harassment Victims

An employee who believes that he or she is experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace has the right to complain about conduct that he or she reasonably believes to be unlawful. The right to complain includes making a complaint to the employee’s supervisor or manager or to follow any sexual harassment complaint procedure that the employer has established.

The right to complain about sexual harassment also includes the right to bring a legal claim concerning the harassment. Legal claims might be filed in an administrative agency and/or in a state or federal court. A sexual harassment lawyer in San Francisco can help victims decide where a legal claim should be filed.

Complaints are protected even when they are informal. Resisting sexual harassment is also protected. For example, saying no to a boss who asks for sex in exchange for continued employment is a protected act. An employee who is fired for saying no may have been subjected to unlawful retaliation.

An employee who reasonably believes that he or she is the victim of sexual harassment is entitled to protection from retaliation for complaining about it. The employee does not lose that protection if the employee was mistaken or if a harassment claim fails, provided that the employee acted reasonably and in good faith.

Helping a Harassment Victim Complain

Every employee has the right to help another employee pursue a reasonable claim of sexual harassment. That assistance might include explaining how to report sexual harassment to the employer, helping the victim prepare a written complaint, or reporting harassment that the employee witnessed.

Assistance can also consist of cooperating with investigations conducted by the employer, by the employee’s lawyer, or by an administrative agency. Cooperation is protected when the employee gives truthful answers to questions asked by investigators or while testifying in legal proceedings on behalf of the sexual harassment victim.

An employee who helps a sexual harassment victim is protected from retaliation if he or she reasonably believes that sexual harassment in the workplace actually occurred. That is true even if the belief turns out to be mistaken.

Employees who help sexual harassment victims are entitled to seek advice from a San Francisco sexual harassment lawyer when they experience retaliation.

Protection from Retaliation

Forbidden acts of retaliation may include:

  • Terminating the employee
  • Demoting the employee
  • Reducing the employee’s pay
  • Transferring the employee to a less desirable job
  • Denying the employee a benefit that the employee would otherwise have received
  • Giving the employee an unfair performance review
  • Harassing or abusing the employee
  • Withholding assistance from the employee that the employee would otherwise receive
  • Taking other actions that make it harder for the employee to perform his or her job
  • Making threats or false accusations against the employee
  • Spreading rumors about the employee

Almost any adverse action directed against the employee may constitute retaliation if it is motivated by the employee’s sexual harassment complaint or assistance provided to a sexual harassment victim. Retaliation need not occur in the workplace and it need not affect the employee’s wages or benefits.

When you need advice

A sexual harassment lawyer at San Francisco’s Minnis and Smallets can help victims of retaliation. We are dedicated to representing victims of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. If you experienced retaliation after opposing (or helping another employee oppose) sexual harassment in the San Francisco bay area, you have the right to seek justice. To learn more about your rights, call us at 1-415-551-0885 or submit our online contact form.