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Can My Boss Fire Me For Reporting His Sexual Harassment?

Published By | Mar 15, 2022 | Employment Law, Gender Discrimination, LGBTQ Discrimination, Retaliation, Sexual Harassment, Wrongful Termination |

Best Sex Harassment Attorney And Wrongful Termination Lawyer Answers: What are examples of sexual harassment in the workplace? Is it illegal for employers to retaliate against an employee for reporting harassment? What constitutes illegal retaliation at work?

Sexual harassment is not allowed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and all state laws, including Ohio Revised Code § 4112.01, et al. As our employment law attorneys have recently discussed, sexual harassment claims typically are either based on a sexually hostile work environment or quid pro quo (sex acts as a condition of job safety or benefits)(Best Law Read: What’s The Difference Between Quid Pro Quo And Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment?; What Is A Sexually Hostile Work Environment?; What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?). Our sex harassment lawyers have also recently discuss that it does not matter the gender of the harasser nor the victim. (Best Law Read: Is Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Illegal?; Can I Sue My Same Sex Boss For Sexual Harassment? I Need The Best Sexual Harassment Lawyer Help In Ohio!; Can I Sue My Same Gender Boss For Sexual Harassment? I Need The Best Lawyer!). Our employment discrimination lawyers have also written about the ant-retaliation provisions of Title VII and state laws, which make it illegal for employers to fire employees for opposing, reporting, or participating in an investigation relating to sexual harassment on the job. (Best Law Read: Fired In Retaliation For Reporting Sex Harassment?; How Do I Prove Illegal Retaliation By My Job Under Title VII?).

Today, we have an example that lays out all three of these issues best. Employment Discrimination lawyers love good examples that cover multiple issues, and this one hits the jackpot.

An Orlando, Florida company, Shelley’s Septic Tank, Inc. According to the lawsuit, the owner of the company, David Shelley, repeatedly made sexual comments to a male driver. Moreover, Shelley was accused of engaging in unwelcome physical contact with that employee. This type of ongoing conduct would fall in the classification of being a sexually hostile work environment.

The employee asked the owner to stop. Under Title VII, this is protected activity. Intensification of the discriminatory or sexually hostile conduct would not only further evidence of a hostile work environment but also be considered retaliation in violation of Title VII.

When opposing sexual harassment to the owner of the company that he worked at did not get the conduct to stop, the employee reported to the sheriff’s department. Although it would have been best to get help from experienced employment discrimination and sexual harassment lawyers, reporting the conduct to the sheriff qualified as the protected activity of reporting the unlawful sexually hostile work environment.

As you would expect in response to the police report, sheriff’s deputies contacted the owner about the employee’s allegations. The owner denied that any sexual harassment had taken place. To be clear, sexual harassment cannot be excused by calling it “teasing,” “goofing around,” or “locker room hijinks.” Even if the boss, manager, supervisor, or even the owner to the company where you work think that it is all just in good fun, you do not have to put up with inappropriate sexual conduct simply because management thinks it’s funny or a joke. It is not a defense to sexual harassment for the boss to tell you that you have no sense of humor. And importantly, a sexually hostile work environment can be created even when the person engaging in sexually offensive conduct is not trying to have sex with you.

Further in responding to the sheriff’s deputies, the company owner openly stated that he planned to retaliate against the employee by firing him for making the complaint to the sheriff’s office. That’s a really bad idea. Most employers will lie or make of fake reasons for firing an employee who engaged in protected conduct under Title VII. (Best Law Read: Employment Discrimination Question: What Is Pretext?) Not David Shelley. He wanted everyone to know who was in charge and that he would not put up with an employee reporting his sexual harassment. Well, in doing so, the big bad owner handed the employee everything that he needed for a retaliation and wrongful termination claim under Title VII.  As a reminder, to state a claim of retaliation under Title VII, an employee must show that: (1) the employee engaged in a protected activity; (2) such protected activity was known by the employer; (3) thereafter, the employer took an action that was “materially adverse” to the employee; and (4) a causal connection existed between the protected activity and the materially adverse action. Now, the sheriff’s deputies can test as to all of those elements.

This is why our employment attorneys always say that it is more often easier to prove the retaliation and wrongful termination claims than the sexually hostile work environment claims. Nonetheless, employers cannot seem to help themselves when accused of wrongdoing and emotionally lash out to fire employees for engaging in legally protected activity.

Shelley’s Septic Tank and its owner, David Shelley, learned this lesson the hard way. In order to resolve the lawsuit, they agreed to settle the sexual harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims for $82,500.

Thanks for providing another bad employer example, David.

Sexual harassment on the job is illegal pursuant Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar Ohio laws. These laws consider sexual harassment to be a form of gender discrimination. If your boss, manager, or the owner of the company that you work at is sexually harassing you or creating a sexually charged or hostile working environment, call the right attorney right now to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At Spitz, The Employee’s 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 should never be tolerated nor permitted in the workplace. It does not matter if you have been wrongfully fired or are still employed, our lawyers know the best way to protect you and your employment rights. Call our top attorneys in Cleveland, Detroit, Boardman, Columbus, Cincinnati, Akron, and Toledo.


The materials available at the top of this sexual harassment blog and on 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 if I was fired today for reporting sexual harassment to HR”, “I’m being sexually harassed by my same-sex boss” “my supervisor grabbed my ass”, “my boss keeps rubbing me event though I told him to stop,” “I’ve been wrongfully terminated in retaliation for opposing my manager’s demand for sex,” or “how do I sue the company that I worked for after being fired wrongfully”, 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.

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