No one deserves to work in a hostile environment. However, sexual harassment in the workplace is common. If you are ever a victim of this practice, you can put a stop to it by filing a complaint against your employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Your employer cannot punish you for this. If they do, you can file another complaint against them and hold them liable for their mistakes.
What is retaliation?
Federal and state laws dictate that it is illegal for employers to retaliate against someone for filing a complaint with the EEOC. Retaliation happens when an employer punishes the employee in some way because they exercised their right to complain. Your employer cannot do any of the following if you file a sexual harassment complaint:
- Fire you
- Give you a performance evaluation that is lower than it should be
- Transfer you to a less desirable position
- Increase scrutiny
- Refuse to give you a promotion
- Engage in verbal or physical abuse
- Spread false rumors about you
- Lower your salary
- Reduce your working hours
- Change your work schedule to conflict with your family responsibilities
Any act from your employer that makes it more difficult for you to work can count as workplace retaliation. If this is happening to you, you can file a complaint with the EEOC to stop this injustice.
Filing a complaint
You can file a legal complaint with the EEOC or state authorities (Kansas Human Rights Commission or Missouri Commission on Human Rights). When you submit a complaint with the state authorities, you submit it automatically with the EEOC. You must file the complaint no later than 180 days after the day your employer retaliated against you.
The EEOC will review your case and will try to solve the dispute with mediation. If mediation does not work, the EEOC can file a lawsuit against your employer. In some cases, the EEOC closes the investigation without filing a lawsuit. In that case, they would give you a letter giving you the right to sue. You cannot sue unless you file a complaint with the EEOC first.
Your right as an employee
You can put a stop to your employer by filing a complaint with the EEOC. If a lawsuit happens, and the court finds your employer is guilty of this practice, they will have to compensate you for your attorney’s fees, mental distress and any other losses you have suffered. You may even receive punitive damages if the retaliation is severe. By filing a complaint, you cannot only receive compensation but can also stop your employer from retaliating against someone else in the future. You have the power to change things for the better, and you can do this by exercising your rights.