Can you be fired for reporting sexual harassment?

You’re proud of the work you do. You’re a professional, hardworking woman, and you take your job and career seriously. Unfortunately, for far too many women in technology and science fields, among others, sexual harassment is a daily part of their work experience. The law protects you from this kind of hostile work environment. However, you may not want to make a report, fearing reprisal from your employer or damage to your career. If you are being mistreated at work, joked about, or otherwise harassed because of your gender, it’s critical to take certain steps to protect yourself.

What to do if you’re being sexually harassed at work

The first and most important step is to document the harassment. If you are receiving offensive or inappropriate emails, forward them to a personal account and/or print them for hard records. If the harassment is part of interpersonal interactions at work, begin documenting them by keeping a detailed journal of each incident. The information you need to keep should include who said what, who else was present, the day and time of each incident, as well as any steps you took to report or address the issue at the time. While the documentation won’t protect you from further harassment, it can help you later.

Can you employer fire, demote, or underpay you because you report harassment?

Legally, the answer is no. It is absolutely a violation of federal law, as well as California state law, for your manager or employer to demote, re-assign, or fire your because you reported harassment. It is also illegal for them to give you worse projects, reduce your pay, or otherwise punish you in hopes of getting you to quit your job. Some will do so anyway. If you are experiencing reprisal from your employer for reporting sexual harassment at work, it’s time for you to consult with an experienced workplace discrimination and harassment attorney. They can help protect you and your career.

An attorney will know what to do in your situation

The first consultation with an attorney is free. You can provide him or her with your documentation, as well as your personal experiences prior to documentation. After reviewing the details of your case, an experienced harassment and discrimination attorney will be able to advise you about what to do next. In many cases, it may require filing a civil suit to recoup your lost wages. It can be hard to put a dollar amount on the damages caused by sexual harassment, which can include unfair pay and missed opportunities for advancement, but an attorney can help with that as well.

If you have been experiencing harassment at work and your employer is not working to correct the issue or, worse, is penalizing you for it, your best option is to speak with an experienced discrimination and harassment attorney as soon as possible. You must protect yourself, your career, and your future.

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