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Workplace Fairness Weekly

Workplace Fairness Weekly (10/1/18)

Topic of the Week  Dealing with Sexual Harassment and the Aftermath

 I’m being sexually harassed, I just want it to stop. What do I do? 

  • Tell them their behavior is unwelcome
  • Communicate directly
  • Tell your supervisor or human resources department

After I was harassed, I complained to the company and it took care of the problem by transferring the harasser. Can I still file a lawsuit?

  • How did the company react?
  • Did the companies action resolve the problem?
  • Did the company take action against you?

After I complained about harassment I'm now known as a troublemaker and I haven't been given the overtime hours I used to routinely receive. Is this legal?

  • was a negative employment action taken against you?
  • Was the action a result of your complaint about harassment?

Dealing with Sexual Harassment and the Aftermath:

I’m being sexually harassed, I just want it to stop. What do I do?
Since one of the legal requirements for sexual harassment is that the conduct be "unwelcome," make sure your supervisor knows that you consider their conduct to be unwelcome. Tell the person that this behavior offends you. Firmly refuse all invitations for dates or other personal interaction outside of work. Don't engage in sexual banter or flirt back in response.
Direct communication, whether verbal or in writing, is better than ignoring the behavior and hoping it will go away, so if you do not feel comfortable talking to your supervisor in person, you may wish to prepare a letter to ensure that they know exactly how you feel.
If that doesn't work, you may want to tell your supervisor, your human resources department or some other department or person within your organization who has the power to stop the harassment. This does not require you to file a lawsuit or hire an attorney and may be sufficient to resolve the problem without further legal action. However, you should be aware that the time deadline to file a legal complaint starts running on the date of the harassment, not the date which your company resolves (or fails to resolve) your complaint, so do not miss legal filing deadlines waiting on the company to resolve the situation.

After I was harassed, I complained to the company and it took care of the problem by transferring the harasser. Can I still file a lawsuit?
It depends. A company that was previously unaware of a harasser's conduct, and that took immediate and effective action once the harassing conduct was brought to the company's attention, is likely to successfully defend a lawsuit brought by a complaining employee where there has not been a tangible employment action against the employee. If there has not been a tangible employment action then you can only prevail by showing that the company was negligent in allowing the harassment to occur.
In this case, employers have two defenses available to them; first, they can argue that they have exercised reasonable care to prevent or correct any harassing behavior, and second, the company can allege that the plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of the preventive or corrective opportunities that the employer provided.
Where there has been a tangible employment action, the company's response does not affect whether you can bring a legal claim. Also, if the transfer was not effective to stop the harassment (the harasser harasses people in his or her new department or location), then unless they take further action, the likelihood of a negligence finding increases.

After I complained about harassment I'm now known as a troublemaker and I haven't been given the overtime hours I used to routinely receive. Is this legal?
Not only can sexual harassment be against the law but retaliating (taking revenge) against someone for complaining about sexual harassment or for participating in an investigation of sexual harassment can be against the law as well.
Some examples of retaliation include:
• being forced to take an unpaid leave of absence after complaining about harassment, although the harasser continues to work;
• being reassigned to a less desirable position in the same or different department after you write a letter about harassment you have witnessed;
• having your hours cut or overtime taken away after you complain about harassment, if it can be shown that the lack of overtime assignments was related to your complaint rather than a business downturn or other business-related reason.
If your employer retaliates against you for complaining about sexual harassment or for participating as a witness in an investigation of sexual harassment, you may take any or all of the same steps suggested here for those who have been harassed. It may be more difficult to address your coworkers' poor treatment of you, unless you can show that your employer, through its managers or supervisors, has encouraged them to give you the silent treatment. If so, this may be additional evidence of retaliation. If not, you may want to enlist the assistance of a sympathetic coworker or supervisor to see if the situation can be improved.

Thought of the Week

"We’re protesting today and this is more important than work. We have the strength to protect one another and demand the justice we deserve."

–#MeToo McDonalds protestor Kimberly Lawson.

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Workplace Fairness

     Top Searches in Harassment This Week: 

    Sexual Harassment: Legal Standards

    Racial Harassment

    Sexual Harassment: Application of the Law

    Sexual Harassment: Practical Strategies

    Filing a Harassment Claim

     

     

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