Retaliation for reporting harassment is an ongoing problem

Frank S. Clowney III

In San Diego, throughout California and across the nation, people who are confronted with workplace violations are increasingly emboldened to speak out about it. This includes various forms of harassment, most notably sexual harassment. Still, even when employees complain, there are other potential challenges they might face. A recent study indicates that people who have complained about harassment are subsequently retaliated against. Both are forms of illegal workplace behavior and can warrant a legal filing for compensation.

A vast percentage of people face retaliation after sexual harassment complaints

The study says that more than 70% of people who complained about being sexually harassed at work were later retaliated against. That included being dismissed from the job. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund had more than 3,300 requests for assistance from January 2018 through April 2020 that were assessed as part of the study. In addition to the retaliation, workers were confronted with other issues including economic problems and a variety of health issues stemming from the mistreatment.

There can be many ways in which an employer or colleagues can commit retaliation. Not only can it cost the person the job they had, but it can hinder them in seeking new employment in the same field. The goal of the study is to determine if the work the legal entities are doing is having an impact and if the initial attention paid to the “me too” movement was sustainable and yielded positive results.

Other information gleaned from the study showed the role power played in sexual harassment. It found that 56% of victims said the person who committed harassment was a superior. Also, 37% stated the alleged perpetrator of the harassment went unpunished. Thirty-six percent were dismissed from the job after complaining; 19% received negative evaluations; 64% informed their employer of the harassment rather than an outside agency; 29% believed nothing was done about their complaints; and 19% said their mental health was harmed by having been harassed.

The importance of legal help with workplace issues

While complaining to the employer about sexual harassment and other forms of workplace misbehavior is important, it is wise to remember that this does not always achieve the desired outcome. In fact, it can make the situation worse. Consulting with an experienced legal professional can provide information and help with how to move forward with a case. It can also help with incidents of retaliation. Calling for advice is key and should be the first step toward dealing with workplace issues related to employment law for employees.