If you are willing to wake up and go to work every day, you should not have to put up with a terrible work environment. Still, sexual harassment is alarmingly common in the U.S. In fact, according to reporting from Business Insider, a third of professional women have experienced sexual harassment at work.
After you complain about sexual harassment, your employer should take steps both to investigate your complaint and to prevent the harassment from continuing. Employers do not always do what they should, of course. That is, your employer may retaliate against you. Even worse, if your employer is sneaky, you may not realize it.
The clearest form of illegal retaliation happens when an employer fires an employee for making a complaint. As you may expect, most employers know this type of behavior is impermissible. Therefore, your employer may engage in subtler forms of retaliation. Even though these are less noticeable, they remain equally unlawful.
Any adverse employment action your employer takes against you has the potential to be retaliatory. Here are some common forms of subtle retaliation:
- Denying you a promotion or pay increase
- Excluding you from training sessions or important meetings
- Changing your schedule or job duties
- Treating you differently
Pretext happens when your employer blames retaliation on something other than your sexual harassment complaint.
For example, your employer may claim you did not meet expectations, treated customers improperly or did something else wrong. Your employer cannot skirt responsibility by coming up with fake reasons for mistreating you, however.
Ultimately, if you suspect your employer is using some pretext to retaliate against you, it is important to find the root cause of your adverse employment action.