The perils of retaliation when employees complain of harassment

No employee should have to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. Your company should have policies against this type of behavior so that it’s stopped before it ever has a chance to start. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to act in an appropriate manner.

As part of your plan to fight sexual harassment, you should have a grievance procedure in place. This is how workers can alert you to unwanted behaviors. When they report sexual harassment in any form, the workers shouldn’t have to worry about facing retaliation.

What is retaliation?

Retaliation is a negative employment action that’s taken against an employee who makes a complaint about any covered activity, which includes sexual harassment complaints. An employee can’t be terminated or demoted because they make a factual claim. Additionally, you can’t cut their hours, drop their pay or change their work schedule to one that’s undesirable as a result of their complaint.

You can still take negative employment action against an employee for other reasons, as long as they are valid and unrelated to their complaint. For example,  an employee could still be fired for failing their job duties in a way that doesn’t meet the company’s standards and requirements. Employees who slack off at work or who do things that violate the code of conduct for the employer may also face negative employment action. As long as you carefully document the reason for your actions, ordinary disciplinary actions shouldn’t be construed as retaliation.

If your company receives a complaint regarding an incident of sexual harassment, take steps to safeguard your company’s future by ensuring that there is no retaliation. If legal action is brought against your company due to retaliation, you want to make sure that your defense is ready at hand.



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