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What is unlawful retaliation after a sexual harassment complaint?


For workers in New York State who have filed a complaint about sexual harassment, it is unfortunate that the abusive behaviors that the person faced might continue in a different form. Unlawful retaliation can also happen and it too can be the basis for a legal filing. If an employee has complained about sexual harassment, retaliation is illegal. This is part of the Human Rights Law and a worker complaining is considered protected activity.

The following falls into the protected activity category: a person who has filed a formal written complaint regarding sexual harassment whether it is internal or through an anti-discrimination agency; a person who gave testimony or assistance in a proceeding that involved sexual harassment based on the Human Rights Law; a person who expressed opposition to sexual harassment by complaining in a verbal or informal manner to management or by telling a higher-up of harassment that was taking place; a person complaining about another employee being sexually harassed; or a person encouraging a fellow employee to complain about sexual harassment. If the employer has four or more employees, retaliation can occur with any other behavior that has been made illegal under the Human Rights Law.

Any adverse action that the employer might take against an employee is considered retaliation. It does not necessarily have to be related to the job or happen in the workplace. Any action that might dissuade a reasonable worker from complaining or supporting another's complaint about sexual harassment will constitute retaliation. This can occur even after the person is no longer working at the job. For example, if a negative reference is given without basis, it can be considered retaliation. For the employee to claim retaliation has taken place, the worker must be able to substantiate it.

People who have been involved in a sexual harassment case as a victim or in reporting or testifying on behalf of another can be subjected to unlawful retaliation, a hostile work environment and more. If this has happened, it is possible to file a case to be compensated. Discussing the matter with an experienced sexual harassment attorney can help with pursuing a case.

Source: dhr.ny.gov, "Guidance On Sexual Harassment For All Employers In New York State," accessed on July 6, 2017

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