In today’s corporate environment, Human Resources training will tell you to report sexual harassment. Many fear doing so because they are afraid of being demoted, fired or disciplined. While it is illegal to fire someone in retaliation for making a claim against a co-worker or manager, companies do it all the time.
CASE STUDY: Excited about a new opportunity, Rose begins her new job at a small company. At first, the work environment suits her. She enjoys the friendship of her coworkers and finds the work challenging, but things begin to change when she is promoted to a new position after a couple of months. Her new supervisor, Kevin, flirts with her and asks her to meet in his office repeatedly. Then, he begins to ask her to wear skirts and low-cut blouses, making her feel uncomfortable.
Because of these unwanted advances, Rose reports Kevin to an HR representative, who disciplines Kevin. Now upset, Kevin begins to give Rose bad evaluations, and ultimately terminates her employment due to “unsatisfactory performance.”
Wrongful Termination Due to Harassment
Most know that being terminated due to rejecting quid pro quo harassment (asking for sexual favors in exchange for money or promotions) is not allowed. The situation presented above is just as critical to note.
In an employment at will state like California, you might assume that Rose’s employer was legally permitted to let her go. The reality, though, is that retaliation against reporting sexual harassment is illegal. Under state and federal law, an employee cannot be fired for:
- Rejecting Unwanted Advances from a Superior
- Asking for Harassment to Stop
- Complaining about or Reporting Harassment
If you suspect that you were terminated due to one of those reasons, you have the right to sue your former employer and to seek damages. The Carter Law Firm may be able to help you to do so, and to determine how strong your case is and/or how to document your situation.
Resigning Because of the Harassment
Even if you left your job due to harassment or unwanted sexual advances, California law allows you to sue in certain circumstances. If you have quit already, the Carter Law Firm can help you determine how to proceed with your case. For those who are thinking about resigning, please speak with us, so that we may help you document the situation and give you advice on how to proceed.
Retaliatory Termination is Too Common a Situation
The problem documented above exists in large and small companies, even with today’s #metoo movement. Supervisors and even the leaders of the company itself can use intimidation or manipulate a victim’s shame to retaliate against them for making a complaint. Employees, though, have avenues to address this type of grievance. You don’t have to stay quiet.
Late last year, a couple of employees at the Walt Disney Company faced similar situations as in the example above. One employee was fired for reporting the harassment, but another one remained with the company but suffered poor evaluations in retaliation for doing so. Both employees have sued the company over the harassment.
Get the Help You Need
Being fired for reporting harassment or for rejecting a sexual advance from a superior can leave an employee feeling very ashamed. If you feel like you were fired due to your rejection or reporting of sexual harassment, you don’t have to live in shame. Speak to The Carter Law Firm today to discuss your case. To set up an appointment with one of our lawyers, please complete the form below. Let us fight for your rights.
The Carter Law Firm, located in Newport Beach, specializes in employment law, including claims for wrongful termination and wage violations such as unpaid overtime. Contact us today if you feel that you have been wronged.