In recent news, a former principal and chief academic officer of a charter school in Philadelphia filed a civil rights lawsuit. Allegedly, she was let go from her job for supporting a colleague’s sexual harassment complaint against the CEO of the company that operates the school. The company claims that not renewing her contract had nothing to do with her support of the sexual harassment complaint, but because of the quality of her work.
According to the claimant, her work only received praise since she was hired in 2011. When she helped a colleague file a sexual harassment complaint in 2014, during the investigation of the complaint, she supported the alleged victim’s claim. The claimant states that following her aid in the investigation, she faced retaliatory measures, such as exclusion from meetings, a reduction of responsibilities, and removal as the program director of a bilingual science program she established for the students. After she filed a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), she was terminated from her position and told the company was doing administrative restructuring.
Supporting a Colleague’s Sexual Harassment Claim is a Protected Activity
The EEOC maintains a list of actions for which employers cannot penalize employees. These include, but are not limited to:
- Filing discrimination claims
- Filing wage and hour complaints
- Providing testimony and other support to colleagues’ discrimination, wage and hour, or other claims alleging rights violations
- Participating in nonviolent protests of worker treatment, such as picketing
Employees who are afraid of facing retaliation might avoid taking necessary actions like those listed above to correct injustices at their companies. The EEOC has protocol in place for filing and pursuing retaliation claims.
Wrongful Termination as a Means of Retaliation
Many workers are under the impression that they can be fired for any reason without notice. This is a misunderstanding of the term “at-will employment.” Although employers typically can terminate workers for any minor reason, firing an employee for engaging in a protected activity is illegal. This is known as a wrongful termination.
Wrongful termination can be a form of discrimination or a form of retaliation, depending on why the employee was fired. For example, an individual who is terminated after coming out as gay is a victim of discrimination. If that same individual faced harassment in the workplace because of their sexual orientation and filed a discrimination claim with the EEOC, only to be terminated a few months later, they are a victim of retaliation.
Cherry Hill Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Retaliation Victims
Retaliation can come after any action that a company feels is not in its best interest, such as filing a sexual harassment claim. It can also occur after a seemingly less serious action, like providing testimony for a colleague’s claim or exercising another right in the workplace. Work with an experienced Cherry Hill sexual harassment lawyer to file and pursue your retaliation claim with the EEOC. To schedule your initial consultation with Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C., complete our online form or call us at 215-569-1999. We work with clients from the South Jersey and Philadelphia areas.