Experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace is never easy. Whether you are dealing with requests for sexual favors, inappropriate comments, unwanted touching, or a hostile work environment, pervasive sexual harassment can take a severe emotional toll.
Research shows that such harassment can be incredibly traumatic, not only impacting productivity but also causing depression, low self-esteem, sleep disorders, and gastrointestinal distress. Sadly, victims often fail to report this conduct because they fear they will endure even harsher treatment or compromise their ability to support their families.
Although it is unlawful for a California employer to retaliate against their worker for filing a sexual harassment report, it is entirely possible for Orange County employees to face retaliation after filing a report of sexual harassment or aiding in a harassment investigation. If you suspect you are experiencing retaliation, consult the information below to learn how you can pursue legal action against your employer.
When Does Retaliation Take Place?
California labor law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for any of the following:
- Complaining about discrimination or sexual harassment
- Filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Serving as a witness in EEOC proceedings
- Cooperating with criminal or administrative investigations concerning an employer
- Reporting illegal or unsafe working conditions
- Resisting sexual advances or other forms of inappropriate conduct
- Requesting reasonable accommodations for a disability
- Discussing wages with coworkers
- Taking sick leave for a medical condition
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim for a workplace injury
How Can an Employer Retaliate Against an Employee?
If your employer retaliates against you for any of the reasons listed above, you have the right to pursue legal action against them. Even if you have already filed a complaint with the EEOC about the harassment you’ve faced, you can file a separate complaint about the retaliation that you’ve dealt with after reporting the harassment.
The most common forms of workplace retaliation include:
- Failure to receive an earned promotion
- Reduction of job responsibilities
- Loss of hours
- Reduction of salary
- Poor performance reviews
- Reassignment to undesirable tasks
- Transfer to an undesirable location
- Exclusion from work meetings, training sessions, or social events
How Do You Prove Retaliation in the Workplace?
To prove that your employer retaliated against you after you filed a report of harassment, you must gather evidence of your employer’s conduct and calculate the damages you suffered due to this conduct.
Gather Evidence of Retaliation
After you get in touch with a trusted employment attorney, they will begin to examine, compile, and organize all available evidence. The more evidence you have at your disposal, the easier it will be for you to prove that you were retaliated against.
Although the specific evidence can vary from case to case, your attorney can help you prove that:
- You’ve faced or witnessed some form of illegal harassment or discrimination.
- You took part in a protected activity.
- In response, your employer took adverse action against you (demotion, termination, etc.).
- As a result of this adverse action, you’ve suffered specific damages.
First need to demonstrate that the report was made in good faith, meaning you filed the complaint out of concern for your well-being and the well-being of others, not out of spite or to damage the reputation of the company. Make sure that you provide your attorney with evidence that the claim was made in good faith, however possible. This is essential to moving forward with your retaliation claim.
Once you’ve successfully demonstrated that the report was made in good faith, you will need to prove that you filed a report of harassment that led to this illegal conduct. Remember to give your lawyer the name and title of the individual to who you initially reported the harassment, as well as any letters, emails, or other documents proving that you made the report. If any individuals witnessed you filing the report, then be sure to provide their names, as well.
Calculate Your Damages
When you sue an employer for retaliation, the objective of your case is to receive damages for the losses you incurred due to the retaliation. As you might expert, recovering compensation or damages through your claim requires showing that you suffered specific damages due to your employer’s actions.
At the beginning of the legal process, you will need to let your employment attorney know about the losses you’ve faced, and the more specific you can be at this stage, the better it is for your claim. There are many ways that you can prove damages during a retaliation claim, depending on the exact losses you’ve experienced. If you received a lower salary or reduced hours, you may provide W-2 forms, pay stubs, or any other documents that demonstrate your earnings both prior to the instance of retaliation and after to show the changes.
It is also possible that you’ve faced medical expenses, which could have been previously covered by the health care benefits your employer terminated. Again, you’ll need to provide documentation that demonstrates these losses in court – your word alone will not be sufficient to recover damages. Policies for employee benefits or employee benefit plans are other potential forms of evidence during a retaliation claim.
Secure Legal Representation Today
If you have encountered retaliation for filing a harassment claim, then it’s crucial that you pursue legal action against your employer. Although instances of retaliation aren’t always simple to prove, it is far from an impossible feat. The best way to ensure you have a valid retaliation claim against your employer is to secure legal representation from an attorney who specializes in retaliation cases.
At The Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams, we have extensive experience dealing with retaliation claims in Orange County, CA. Our firm has the legal knowledge and litigation skills to gather the evidence you need to prove that you filed a report, that you were subsequently retaliated against for doing so, and that you suffered damages as a result.
To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today to schedule a consultation.