Within the past few years, the United States has had a significant reckoning on gender equality in public and private life. The #MeToo and “Time’s Up” movements shone a bright light on just how common sexual harassment and assault are for women. Many other major events have dominated the news since these movements were making headlines, but the work hasn’t stopped.
The Time’s Up movement, in particular, is largely dedicated to fighting harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace. To that end, the National Women’s Law Center, which administers the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, began offering legal aid in early 2018 to victims in need. Since that time, the fund has received more than 3,300 requests for legal assistance. An analysis of those requests confirms a problem that most employment law attorneys are all too familiar with: Victims who report sexual harassment are very likely to also face retaliation.
According to the data, more than 70 percent of legal aid applicants noted that they were retaliated against for reporting their sexual harassment. Forms of retaliation can include:
- Demotion and/or reduced pay
- Losing shifts
- Being transferred into less desirable working conditions (moved to the basement or forced to work overnights, for example)
- Receiving negative performance reviews out of character with past reviews or current performance
- Being fired
- Being fired and then unable to find another job in the industry because of blacklisting by your former employer
Harassment and retaliation are toxic for everyone
Workers who are victims of harassment and retaliation are likely to experience overwhelming stress and despair that could turn into long-term health problems. Moreover, they will also likely face economic hardship due to a lost job and reduced career prospects.
Employers should not tolerate or condone any such behaviors in the workplace. Not only are they objectionable in their own right, they are also terrible for business and the health of the company. Workplaces where harassment, discrimination and retaliation are allowed to take place have low employee morale, high rates of turnover, greatly reduced productivity and almost no company loyalty. In short, the only “winners” in these situations are those engaging in harassment and discrimination.
Seeking justice for illegal mistreatment in the workplace
The professional world is smaller than most people think. If you’ve been harassed and then retaliated against at work, you may have found it difficult to find another job in your field and impossible to stay at your old company. Thankfully, you don’t need to just accept your fate. Instead, please speak to an experienced employment law attorney about fighting back and seeking the justice and compensation you deserve.