Can I Be Fired for Reporting Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
In a time when #metoo is lending power and a voice to victims of sexual harassment, it can be hard to believe that victims still have worries of retaliation for reporting harassment in the workplace. We still hear of people not reporting their own experiences of sexual harassment or witness accounts of it for fear of retaliation. This can include being demoted, poor performance reviews, a reduction in hours or compensation, and ultimately, termination.
Can You Be Fired for Reporting?
Should you be fired? The answer is a firm “no.” The long answer is that you might be, but your termination is illegal. Whatever the case, you will need help and you don't have to do it alone. Being harassed in your workplace, or witnessing a colleague's harassment can put you in a difficult place. Aside from being uncomfortable, there’s a large risk of developing depression and anxiety that stem from these encounters. Worrying that you’re going to get punished for reporting only increases those emotions. The harasser may also be a person in power, further limiting a victim’s resolve to report. Finally, in many places the burden of proof falls on the victim, creating an overwhelming sense of “I can’t do this” that leads to many unreported cases.
What Can You Do?
First and foremost, know that you aren’t in the wrong. You don’t have to hide what’s happening. Second, reach out to an experienced employment attorney and schedule a free consultation. Come prepared. If able, provide a journal of dates and times that the harassment took place. They’ll be able to listen to you and help you understand your rights.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable, and furthermore, it is illegal. Don’t let your job and person suffer for fear of being fired. If you have questions or need assistance, call 415-545-8608.