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Top Sexual Harassment Attorney Reply: What Constitutes Retaliation For Reporting Sexual Harassment?

| Aug 25, 2014 | Employment Discrimination, Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Wrongful Termination |

Best Ohio Sexual Harassment Attorney Answer: Can my job fire me for reporting sexual harassment? What if my boss takes other action other than terminating me or demoting me for reporting sex harassment? Does switching me to the least desirable work assignments/hours constitute retaliation?

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Hopefully you have learned from reading our extensive sexual harassment blog posts that if you are wrongfully terminated or demoted from your job as a result of reporting sexual harassment, your employer could be liable for retaliation. Ohio and Federal laws are crystal clear that termination or demotion as a result of report harassment or discrimination is illegal. But, what happens when the employer takes other adverse actions after complaints of sexual harassment that don’t rise to the level of termination or demotion?

This sexual harassment retaliation issue was recently addressed in a lawsuit against a Colorado potato company called MountainKing Potatoes. MountainKing operates a potato warehouse and was sued for allegedly subjecting female farm workers to constant inappropriate touching, comments, gestures and propositions. When the female employees complained about the continuous harassment, MountainKing punished some employees by terminating them. This is the most common action that leads to a retaliation claim and there is no question that terminating an employee for reporting sexual harassment would lead to a retaliation claim.

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However, MountainKing took other actions against certain other female employees that complained about sexual harassment that did not result in either demotion or termination. The recently filed lawsuit specifically included these employees and alleged retaliation claims on behalf of these employees even though they were not terminated or demoted. Instead, these employees were assigned to the least desirable assignments and workstations as retaliation for them reporting harassment.

Another female employee was disciplined as a result of showing up to work slightly late each day because one of the male harassers was always present at the time clock to be abusive to her. She was disciplined despite explaining that she was late only to avoid further sexual harassment. MountainKing’s actions towards the employees reassigned or disciplined still amounted to retaliation according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII provides that an employer may not terminate, demote or “otherwise retaliate” against an employee for reporting sexual harassment.

While simple annoyances and negative comments regarding an employees work performance likely would not trigger the “otherwise retaliate” portion of Title VII, reassigning an employee to a less desirable assignment, workstation or hours would be exactly was Title VII would consider “otherwise retaliating.” Further, disciplining an employee for trying to avoid further sexual harassment would also be considered retaliation under Title VII and its Ohio counterpart. Thus, the MountainKing suit makes clear that an employee can have a valid retaliation claim when his or her employer takes actions other than termination or demotion.

We will keep you posted on how this other adverse treatment sexual harassment litigation goes.

Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar Ohio laws. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. If you feel that you are being sexually harassed or are working in a sexually charged or hostile working environment, you should not wait to call the right attorney at (216) 291-4744 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At The Spitz Law Firm, you will meet with a sexual harassment lawyer/hostile work environment attorney to find out what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them. Sexual harrassment is a form of gender discrimination, and employers should be held accountable if they discriminate against female workers in any fashion – but particularly for sexual harrassment. It does not matter if you have been wrongfully fired or are still employed, there is no reason to wait to find out what your legal rights are and how to protect yourself from sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Disclaimer:

The materials available at the top of this page and at this gender discrimination, wrongful termination, and sex harassment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking “what should I do …”, “I’m being sexually harassed …” “my supervisor grabbed my…”, “my boss is touching…,” “I’ve been wrongfully terminated,” or “how do I …”, your best course is to contact an Ohio sexual harassment attorney/hostile work environment lawyer to obtain advice with respect to sexual harassment/hostile work environment questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through this employment law website are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.