Can I pursue sexual harassment against a coworker who is currently pursuing harassment against me?

Is it considered retaliation on my part if I decide to pursue a sexual harassment complaint against a coworker who is pursuing a harassment complaint against me at the same time? Months ago I was victim to sexual harassment by a coworker and never reported it. Since then this coworker has been saying negative things about me and I foolishly chose to respond via text message to her in a negative manner. Because of this my coworker has complained to HR that I have been harassing her. Can I follow up with a sexual harassment complaint against her without it being considered retaliation?

2 answers  |  asked Jun 2, 2012 8:30 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (2)

Neil Klingshirn
David is correct. You walk a fine line here. On the one hand, there is some law that says an accused who counter sues an employee in a discrimination case has retaliated against the employee who sued for discrimination. However, the Ohio Supreme Court held in the case of Greer-Burger v. Temesi, 116 Ohio St. 3d 324 (Ohio 2007)that an employer's lawsuit against an employee who had earlier sued it for discrimination, was not retaliatory, so long as the lawsuit by the employer was not "objectively baseless."

However, when you talk to an employment lawyer, discuss the wisdom of filing a counter-complaint, and what you expect to gain from it. Also discuss with a lawyer an alternative of disclosing what happened to you in the investigation into the negative text, and saying that you object to and oppose the coworker's conduct.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Jun 5, 2012 07:00 AM [EST]
David Neel
You're in a very delicate situation. The best thing you can do is talk with an experienced employment lawyer. The process needs to be managed properly.

posted by David Neel  |  Jun 4, 2012 07:31 AM [EST]

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