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employee retaliation

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#1 ladydog_9811


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Posted 27 December 2012 - 12:36 PM

I'm a supervisor at work.
After I asked an employee to observe one of our policies, she went to hr and filed a sexual harassment claim.
What can I do about this obvious retaliation?

#2 pg1067


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Posted 27 December 2012 - 12:52 PM

I'm sure you can do lots of things. What might be most appropriate to do depends on all of the relevant facts and circumstances, none of which appear in your post. What I mean by this is that your subordinate presumably did not simply walk into the HR person's office and say, "hey, Bob sexually harassed me. Please do something about it. Thanks." Rather, I assume that she started the dialog like that and that there was a subsequent conversation in which the HR person asked questions and your subordinate provided specific, factual details of the alleged harassment. Those factual details matter. I also assume that the HR person either concluded that the allegation was without merit and did nothing, solicited your input, or hasn't done anything yet. How HR responded or will respond to the allegation also obviously matters, as does everything that happens or has happened thereafter (e.g., how you respond(ed), what HR eventually decids/decided to do, etc.).

If the claim has merit, your assertion that the claim was "obvious retalition" doesn't matter in the slightest. You're obviously free to respond to HR and say something like the following: "The allegation made by Sally is meritless because <insert factual detail here>. Oh, and she's also obviously retaliating against me because I asked her to observe the blankety-blank policy." If your employer's HR folks are properly trained, they won't care about your "obvious retaliation" allegation and will only care about the merits (or lack thereof) of the harassment claim.

#3 Guest_FindLaw_Amir_*

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 01:25 PM

What has Human Resources done about this claim?

#4 Tax_Counsel


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Posted 29 December 2012 - 11:35 AM

I'm a supervisor at work.
After I asked an employee to observe one of our policies, she went to hr and filed a sexual harassment claim.
What can I do about this obvious retaliation?

Assuming that your company has at least 15 employees, it is illegal under federal law for the company to discriminate against employees on the basis of sex. Illegal sex discrimination includes sexual harassment. Many states also make it illegal under their law, often extending coverage to smaller companies than federal law does. If sexual harassment occurs and the employer knows about it, the employer's obligation is to make the sexual harassment stop. The failure to do that may result in the employer being found liable for a money judgment in favor of the harassed employee. Thus, employers who know the law will take sexual harassment claims seriously, investigate them, and if the employer finds that the claim may be justified, it needs to take appropriate steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Federal law also makes it illegal to retaliate against an employee for exercising his/her rights under the anti-discrimination laws, which includes making a complaint about alleged sexual harassment to the employer. In short, if you take action against her for filing the complaint, you may violate federal law and make matters even worse for you and the company.

That she filed the complaint in apparent retaliation for you reprimanding her for violating the company policy is not illegal under federal or state laws. You may, of course, tell HR your side of things and point out that the employee did it right after she was reprimanded. The timing of her complaint may cast some doubt as to the merits of her claim. I suggest you simply stick to the facts and keep things as businesslike as possible.

Understand, though, that given the company's obligations under federal (and perhaps state) law, the employer may feel compelled to do something in response to the sexual harassment claim to put a stop to any future possible harassment. The failure to take sex harassment claims seriously can be very costly to an employer.

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