Both federal and California employment laws protect you against sexual harassment at work. However, sexual harassment still occurs in many workplaces, and when it does, you should not hesitate to report the conduct to your employer. Unfortunately, many people are afraid to do this, as they fear they will experience retaliation from their employer for reporting sexual harassment.
The good news is that the law strictly prohibits any type of retaliation for sexual harassment complaints or participating in a sexual harassment investigation or case. However, these prohibitions do not stop all attempts at retaliation, and it is important for employees who experience unlawful retaliation to stand up for their legal rights.
What is Unlawful Retaliation?
Unlawful retaliation refers to adverse employment acts or decisions because an employee exercised a legal right. You have the lawful right to file a complaint or report about sexual harassment, though many employers want to discourage employees from causing a stir or raising possible issues in the workplace.
There are many ways that employers can retaliate against you for sexual harassment-related matters. Some adverse acts that can constitute retaliation include:
- Demotion or denying a promotion that is deserved
- Denying a deserved pay increase
- Cutting back scheduled hours
- Giving you undesirable shifts or transfers
- Subjecting you to further harassment or ridicule
- Disciplinary action or poor performance reviews
While wrongful termination is the most drastic form of retaliation, there are many other ways your employer might retaliate. If you believe you experienced any type of adverse employment action after you were sexually harassed at work, you should discuss the matter with an experienced sexual harassment lawyer in California right away.
Taking Action against Retaliation
If you were the victim of unlawful retaliation, you have the right to seek legal relief from your employer under the law. However, the process of proving a retaliation claim is not always an easy one. This is especially true if your employer denies engaging in any type of retaliation.
To prove a sexual harassment retaliation claim, you must show the following:
- You lawfully complained of sexual harassment or engaged in another protected activity relating to sexual harassment claims
- You suffered an adverse employment action
- The adverse employment action was a direct result of your lawful complaint or conduct
In many cases, employers will deny that an adverse employment action was, in fact, retaliation for sexual harassment matters. Instead, your employer might come up with a different falsified reason for the action. For example:
- You claim that your employer gave you poor performance reviews and denied you a promotion because you complained of sexual harassment
- Your employer claims that the poor performance reviews and promotion denial were based on your decreased productivity at work
Challenging pretextual reasons given by your employer can be a difficult task, and you want the right legal representation throughout this process. If you believe you suffered losses due to sexual harassment retaliation, you should never delay in consulting with an employment law attorney who can protect your rights in California.