What happens when you are laid off after experiencing sexual harassment?
No one asks to be sexually harassed at work. Even though it is exceedingly common—something nearly everyone will either experience or witness during their careers — it is neither pleasant nor simple. Sometimes employers will go to great lengths to suppress a sexual harassment case, including firing or laying off the victim of the harassment in an attempt to keep them quiet.
What should you do if you have experienced sexual harassment on the job and find yourself laid off by your employer before you can make a sexual harassment complaint?
First, remember that sexual harassment is illegal and that those who have experienced it are protected from retaliation. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the laws that protects employees from being harassed and also from adverse employment actions as punishment for coming forward, or potentially coming forward in the future, with a complaint.
In these cases, adverse employment actions can be anything that is unfair toward the person who was sexually harassed, such as being fired, laid off, demoted, passed over for promotion, given a pay or benefits cut, or something else. If the harassment victim can show that they were sexually harassed and then laid off (or otherwise treated unfairly with an adverse employment action) and that there is a causal connection between those two events, there is grounds for a sexual harassment retaliation case. This potentially comes with hefty legal consequences for the employer.
If this has happened to you before you had a chance to report the sexual harassment, you still can take legal action against your employer. You have only a limited amount of time to pursue a case, so it is important to act swiftly. You do not need to report the sexual harassment to the HR department or a supervisor in order to file an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint. Evidence of the sexual harassment is extremely valuable in a sexual harassment case. If possible, take detailed notes on what happened and when and save any messages sent or received related to the case.
An attorney can best advise you on how to report the sexual harassment and retaliation. Erlich Law Firm is committed to protecting the rights of workers in California and holding employers and sexual harassers accountable for their actions. For a free consultation about your case, call (510) 390-9140.
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