Security Guard Fired for Outing Peeping-Tom Coworker
Man sued employer for retaliation and was awarded $115K
Imagine that you witness one of your coworkers doing something you consider
to be deplorable. You report the incident.
Several days later, you’re fired.
Unfortunately, some companies breed a culture of keeping up appearances.
That is, they’d rather brush trouble under the carpet than deal with it.
However, it’s important to know that the law offers protection from
retaliation for people who have complained about unlawful behavior.
Let’s take a look at a recent case and then discuss what you need
to know about retaliation.
Christopher Smith was employed as a security guard by Guardsmark. He was
assigned to the security detail at a facility operated by General Dynamics.
As part of his job duties, Smith sometimes worked in the control room where
the General Dynamics security cameras were located. One of his coworker’s
behavior in that room made Smith uneasy. On multiple occasions, he witnessed
a male colleague focusing security cameras on women’s private parts.
Smith told the coworker to stop it, but his request was ignored.
Finally, Smith told a female victim about the situation. She filed a complaint.
A few days after that, Guardsmark removed Smith from his post at General
Dynamics and did not reassign him.
Smith complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
which sued on his behalf. The agency alleged that Smith was terminated
in retaliation for opposing unlawful sexual harassment.
The company attempted to have the case thrown out, but the court refused.
After several years of legal wrangling, Smith was victorious. While the
company did not admit to wrongdoing, it agreed to pay Smith $115,000.
It was also ordered to beef up its harassment training program.
(The case discussed here is EEOC v. Guardsmark.)
Retaliation comes in many forms
If you have suffered an adverse employment action after you’ve made
a complaint about what you perceive to be unlawful activity, you may be
able to make a claim for retaliation. You may also have legal protection
from retaliation after participating in someone else’s complaint.
However, keep in mind that you don’t have to be fired in order to
make a retaliation claim. Often, retaliation involves more subtle actions, such as:
- denial of promotions or opportunities for advancement
- changing your schedule to one that is extremely undesirable
- transferring you to an undesirable location
- demoting you
- threatening you or your family members
- increasing scrutiny of your performance
- making your job more difficult
If you believe that you’ve been subjected to unlawful retaliation,
it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney about your rights.
Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.