Can an employer retaliate if you complain about sexual harassment?

You shouldn’t let anyone tell you that sexual harassment in the workplace is a thing of the past.

Your boss may make unwanted comments about your appearance. They may touch you inappropriately. They may repeatedly text you during your time off, asking personal questions. Your employer may approach you for sexual favors in exchange for work opportunities. The list can go on.

Your boss — the one causing the harassment — is in charge of your position and income. So, it’s reasonable to believe you could jeopardize your job for speaking out against their actions. This alone stops many people from reporting sexual harassment. 

But can an employer legally punish you because you reported them for sexual harassment? Here’s what you should know:

Employer retaliation violates your rights

You should feel safe knowing that it is illegal to retaliate against an employee that has reported sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment reports are considered a protected activity by law. That doesn’t mean, of course, that an employer cares about your rights.

They may still find ways to push you out of your job to cover up their actions. For example, your employer may try reducing your job requirements or salary. They may make false work performance evaluations. They may spread rumors against you. They may try making you regret working for them.

Fighting back against workplace retaliation

When trying to reduce workplace retaliation you may need to follow the required reporting steps in your employee handbook and go through proper channels before taking further legal action – but don’t give up. What you do today can prevent someone else from being abused tomorrow. 

You may need to know your legal options if an employer is retaliating against you for a sexual harassment report.

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