Employers, Avoid Retaliation Against Employees Complaining of Sexual Harassment

Employees have certain rights and protections that all employers should know about. All employers need to be aware that retaliation against employees for complaining of sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful.

Retaliation against employees can cause many legal problems for employers.

In what situations is retaliation against employees unlawful? Here are a few common scenarios that show when employees are protected by The Human Rights Law against employer retaliation:

  • If an employee has complained (in good faith) of sexual harassment in the workplace
  • If an employee has complained that a coworker was sexually harassed in the workplace
  • If an employee encouraged a coworker to file a complaint of sexual harassment
  • If an employee has filed a written complaint of sexual harassment in the workplace with the company's HR or with a anti-discrimination agency
  • If an employee has testified or participated in a proceeding or court case for a sexual harassment claim

What is considered retaliatory behavior?

Overall, any behavior that adversary affects the employee and dissuades them from pursuing charges of sexual harassment (or any type of harassment) is considered retaliatory conduct. This behavior does not have to occur inside the workplace or be related to the job. Retaliation includes firing, demoting, or harassing employees who complain of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Who is liable when claims of sexual harassment arise?

Ultimately, the employer is the person who is liable for any harassment that occurs in their establishment, even if they did not commit the harassment and even if they were not aware of it going on. Employers are responsible legally even if the person that committed the harassment was a manager or owner. If an employee complained about sexual harassment to a supervisor, then it assumed that the employer was made aware of the situation and they may then be held liable if they do not take any steps to stop or prevent the harassment.

How employers can prevent sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Implementing a non-tolerance sexual harassment policy
  • Creating a procedure for formally filing complaints of sexual harassment
  • Having an effective investigation process into all complaints
  • Training on sexual harassment for all employees
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