Experiencing workplace harassment can be demoralizing and stressful. People may question whether they have been too sensitive or if they should just let the situation go. They may worry about alienating their co-workers or doing real damage to their future career prospects.
Although people know harassment is a violation of their workplace rights, they may struggle to assert themselves when they experience it. Many people contemplating filing a harassment report with their employers worry that the company might take punitive actions against them.
Particularly when the individual engaging in harassment based on someone’s protected characteristics is in a high-ranking position or is one of the company’s top performers, people may fear punishment if they report the misconduct they have experienced. Can an employer terminate a worker who has experienced mistreatment from others on the job?
Retaliation by a business violates federal law
The decision to fire a worker for reporting workplace harassment is a type of employer retaliation. Numerous state and federal statutes prohibit such practices. Companies cannot punish workers for engaging in protected workplace activities. The decision to speak up about harassment and request support from an employer is a perfect example of a protected workplace activity.
Employers should not punish people who simply want to work without experiencing inappropriate harassment. The unfortunate truth is that companies do sometimes engage in retaliation. In addition to firing workers, they might demote them, transfer them to a less-desirable shift or otherwise punish them professionally for reporting someone else’s misconduct.
A firing stemming from a worker’s report of harassment could constitute a wrongful termination. Taking legal action after a wrongful termination could help compensate an individual who has experienced career disruption because of an employer’s inappropriate retaliation.