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  • Workplace Retaliation in Response To Harassment Claims

    None of us want to be the victim of sexual harassment or any other bigoted prejudices like age, race, or religious discrimination. But, all too often some of us experience these things in the workplace. Laws are implemented to protect us and legal avenues can defend our rights if we choose to file a lawsuit against our aggressor, but what do we do after we have filed a formal complaint? Can we really expect to be treated as if we had not made accusations of harassment against a coworker or superior? Will the workplace become more of a hostile environment because we chose to speak out? If you need legal advice about workplace discrimination, contact a sexual harassment lawyer in Orange County.

    Those filing workplace harassment lawsuits are also increasingly filing claims of retaliation by employers. People who lodge formal complaints regarding inappropriate behavior from coworkers or a superior are finding that they are experiencing a new set of harassments; these “retaliations” may occur in the form of comments, office gossip, exclusion of activities, or any behavior that treats the victim differently due to their initial complaint. In essence, the victim is being victimized all over again because they spoke out about an abusive behavior.

    Employers are finding retaliation lawsuits are more damaging to their pocketbook than the initial complaint because they are easier for a victim to prove. Often times, a case of sexual harassment is someone’s word against another which leaves the jury with a difficult decision of who to believe; retaliation cases may be more believable by juries because the behavior is more obvious and visible by others in the workplace. A sexual harassment lawyer in Orange County can advise you regarding specific situations and help arrange a case if you feel you’ve been the victim of inappropriate harassment.

    It is human nature for an accused person to want to defend themselves to their peers, especially if they feel they are innocent of the accusations. Often, a victim and aggressor will see an “inappropriate” exchange differently or as a misunderstanding and want to clear the air or explain their actions. After a complaint is filed, employers may suggest the parties refrain from discussing the matter or maybe avoid each other until it has been resolved. Retaliation can be a fine line in these situations because the “accused” party is expected to proceed normally and the “victim” expects equal treatment as everyone else.

    Understandably in some situations, a jury may find an accuser innocent of harassment, but guilty of retaliation; either way, the verdict often results in a monetary loss for the employer. For this reason, companies need to be vigilant about workplace conduct and implement sexual harassment training. Everyone should feel safe at work; if you need legal advice, contact a sexual harassment lawyer in Orange County.