If you’re a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s a good idea to report the incident to your HR department. Doing so ensures that your complaint is formally filed with your employer. It also puts the ball in their court with regard to investigating and following up with you.
It’s not uncommon to shy away from reporting sexual harassment out of fear that your employer (or someone within the company) will retaliate against you. Retaliation comes in many forms, including but not limited to:
- Demotion: Your company could take away your job title, reduce your responsibilities and even cut your pay. Even worse is the fact that they may attempt to disguise the retaliation as something else, such as restructuring.
- Termination: This is exactly what it sounds like. Your employer doesn’t want to deal with you after your sexual harassment claim, so they terminate your employment. Once again, they’ll attempt to hide the true reason for doing so, such as by saying you weren’t doing your job or the company is downsizing.
- Talking behind your back: For example, the person who harassed you may begin to disparage you to the rest of the company. They do this in an attempt to make others turn on you. This makes for an uncomfortable and often dangerous work environment.
If you suspect retaliation after you filed a sexual harassment report with your HR department, here’s what you should do:
- Collect evidence: Any evidence you have to back up your sexual harassment claim and/or retaliation is worth keeping.
- Ask questions: Don’t simply sit back and hope that things work out. Ask questions that will help you better understand what’s happening.
- Learn more about your legal rights: Depending on the circumstances, you may be in position to file a lawsuit against your employer.
Even though you may have concerns about retaliation after reporting sexual harassment, you shouldn’t keep it to yourself. There’s no reason you should have to deal with this type of behavior at work.
Speak up, know your legal rights and do whatever it takes to protect yourself and employment.