3 Ways Sexual Harassment Claims May Lead to Other Claims

posted by Daniel Stevens  |  Sep 6, 2018 12:37 PM [EST]  |  applies to California



3 Ways Sexual Harassment Claims May Lead to Other Claims


A Work Attorney has many types of cases that end up on their desk, but the most common is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment within the workplace is against the law, yet remains a common issue.  Victims of sexual harassment need to be aware though that being a victim of sexual harassment victimizes them in other ways and brings rise to other claims against their employer. Sexual harassment claims may lead to other claims such as sex discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination. These listed claims may not be a substitute for a sexual harassment claim but may be tacked on to a sexual harassment claim. 



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There is such a thing as sex discrimination and sexual harassment can open the door to a sex discrimination claim.  There are certain classes of people and particular characteristics a person may possess that are considered protected under the law in California.  An individual’s sex is considered protected and sexual harassment is considered a type of sex discrimination.  Therefore, depending on the circumstances, an employee who is being sexually harassed may have a claim against their employer for sex discrimination. Each case is different but with the assistance of a Work Attorney, an employee may be able to bring proceedings in both a sexual harassment claim as well as sex discrimination.



retaliation claim

If an employee is sexually harassed at work, the employee has the right to make a complaint about being sexually harassed.  An employee has the right to complain about sexual harassment because sexual harassment is considered unlawful behavior, therefore the employee’s right is protected in that he or she would be reporting possible illegal activity.  However, sometimes an employee will make a complaint concerning sexual harassment and yet they are punished thereafter.  In employment law, if an employee is treated negatively after making a complaint regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, this is considered as retaliation.


Retaliation occurs when an employee makes a complaint to either the Human Resources Department, a manager, supervisor, or even filing an official complaint, and after he or she does so, they are punished.  Usually, an employer will not blatantly state that they are punishing an employee for making a complaint about sexual harassment.  More often than not, an employer will begin treating the employee negatively after the complaint is made and depending on the particular circumstances, the employer may write the employee up or reprimand him or her for a fictitious reason. Other ways an employee may experience retaliation is through a reduction in hours, reduction in wage, being denied employee benefits, being transferred to another department, or even being terminated.


Sometimes a disgruntled employer may give an employee certain shifts or tasks that the employer knows are near impossible for the employee to attend or carry out successfully which may provide the appearance of a “bad employee” but really it is considered a type of constructive termination. For example, an employee may have disclosed upon their hire that they cannot work certain shifts because they have to care for their child.  Up until making a complaint about sexual harassment, the employee’s manager provided the employee with shifts that were compatible with their childcare schedule.  After the complaint was made, however, the manager began scheduling the employee during the particular shifts in which the employee was caring for their child and was unable to attend those shifts, leading to disciplinary action against the employee.  In this example, although the employer did not outright state that they were punishing the employee, it is possible to draw a connection between the complaint and the change in shifts. Here, the employee may be able to add a retaliation claim to their sexual harassment claim.  This is an example of retaliation but there are many other ways of retaliation may take place. An employee or former employee who feels as though he or she was treated negatively after he or she made a complaint about sexual harassment may reach out to a Work Attorney to discuss their potential sexual harassment and retaliation claim. 


Remember that the mistreatment must be connected to the complaint made regarding sexual harassment.  In other words, an employee may have made a complaint about sexual harassment and the next day the employee is caught stealing from the cash register at their work and then they are fired.  In an example like that, it would be difficult to prove that the complaint and the termination were connected. If an employee believes they may have been retaliated against, he or she should contact a Work Attorney who has litigated in this area previously and been successful.


Wrongful Termination

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As mentioned previously, an employee who makes a complaint about sexual harassment may be fired out of relation because he or she made a complaint. Retaliation is a separate claim within itself and the result of the retaliation may be that the employee was fired.  Therefore, because the employee was fired due to retaliation, this would not be considered termination, but “wrongful termination”.  Normally, employees in California are at-will employees, meaning their boss can fire him or her without cause, except if it is for an illegal reason.  Sexual harassment is illegal, so if an employee complains about something that is illegal and they are fired for that complaint, they have crossed over into being fired for an illegal reason, which is considered wrongful termination. If an employee has a sexual harassment claim against their employer, they may also have a complaint about wrongful termination if he or she did end up being terminated in the end. If an employee is unsure whether they have a claim against their employer for sexual harassment and wrongful termination, he or she should contact a Work Attorney to discuss the details of their circumstances.


                If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment within the workplace, he or she may also have a claim in sex discrimination, retaliation, and/or wrongful termination. Call a Work Attorney to get a free consultation.


Source: 3 Ways Sexual Harassment Claims May Lead to Other Claims​

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