Sexual harassment can make going into work every day a miserable experience and even push someone out of a career they have studied for years to build. If you have endured sexual harassment from a co-worker, customer or manager, you have a right to make a complaint.
Unfortunately, in a minority of cases, the business involved will take action against the person who reports the offense — not the perpetrator. What are some of the ways that businesses punish or illegally retaliate against workers that report sexual harassment?
They transfer the person who makes the complaint
When you report that your supervisor or deskmate has made unwanted advances and refuses to stop even after you have repeatedly rebuffed them, the company should investigate and then take appropriate action. Unfortunately, the action they take may be punitive toward you, instead.
They might transfer you to a different department, change your position or even make you switch to a different shift so that you don’t work with the person harassing you. As the person reporting the incident, you should not face penalties just for speaking up.
They push the complaining worker out of the company
Sexual harassment is often the result of a sense of entitlement. Unfortunately, that may mean that high-performing employees, managers and executives might abuse their career success or authority as leverage in personal relationships with their employees or team members.
Especially when the person who harasses you contributes a lot to the company, the business might decide to punish you instead of that person. Sometimes, they will terminate you without explanation. Other times, they will try to cover their tracks by writing you up for questionable infractions or giving you unreasonably low performance reviews.
If you think you have faced retaliation because you spoke up about sexual harassment, you may need to take action against your employer. Working with an experienced advocate is your smartest move.