When the Weinstein scandal exploded in 2017, actress Alyssa Milano famously encouraged social media users to spread the hashtag #MeToo in an effort to demonstrate just how many men and women experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Since that initial tweet, thousands upon thousands of people from all walks of life, including famous celebrities and politicians, have responded with their own chilling #MeToo stories.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that the #MeToo movement has led to “a 50% increase in suits challenging sexual harassment over FY 2017.”
As an employee, you have a legal right to report sexually inappropriate conduct to your supervisor or your company’s HR department without fear of adverse consequences. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and a staggering 75% of victims do not come forward because of concerns that they will be punished for complaining. While it may be a stressful experience, the actions you take today can both protect you, your coworkers' peers and educate your company. But what happens if your employer retaliates against you?
Recognizing Workplace Retaliation
In New York, employees who complain about sexual harassment are protected from retaliation by city state and federal human rights laws. The standard for proving a retaliation claim requires showing that the manager's action might deter a reasonable person from opposing discrimination or participating in the EEOC complaint process.
Retaliatory behaviors include, but are not limited to:
• Firing the employee
• Concocting a performance problem where none actually exists
• Turning coworkers against the employee
• Arbitrarily transferring or demoting the employee
• Denying or withholding wages or benefits
• Negatively increasing or changing the employee’s job duties
However, it’s important to remember that employees are not protected from legitimate discipline or termination so long as it is for non-retaliatory reasons.
Discuss Your Case with Experienced Legal Representatives
It takes great courage to stand up to sexual harassment. At Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP, we take pride in fiercely defending the legal rights of our clients. If you are being threatened by your employer’s retaliatory conduct, contact our New York employment law attorneys today. We can help you understand the options that are available to you.
Contact Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP at (646) 490-0221 to schedule a consultation.