Sexual Harassment Retaliation

Question:

Myself and two others employees went to our HR department about being sexually harassed by our boss. After a circus of an investigation they told us that we all got together and came up with this story and are lying just to get rid of our boss.

By the way, our boss is best friends with the general manager of our company. I am furious that I have already been through this. I have been suffering from anxiety attacks, I have suffered a heart attack and uncontrollable blood pressure. My doctor insists it is from being stressed at work.

They made it seem as if he is the victim and told us we were liars and that we have “hurt his feelings”. What about our feelings? One employee who made this accusation has already been terminated and the other two of us our being watched during our entire shift, because they are waiting for an excuse for dismissal.

HR has admitted to having us under surveillance, even during our breaks and questions every conversation we have with fellow employees. The accused is in total control of our job. He schedules, hires and fires within our dept.

What can we do to protect our integrity and rights? The two of left are in fear of retaliation and are feeling the effects of an hostile work environment.

Signed,

Fearful and Stressed


Answer:

Dear Fearful and Stressed:

If this is all as you say it is and you have even some basic proof, it sounds as though you should be contacting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about sexual harassment and retaliation and asking them to investigate.

At the same time you may wish to contact an attorney and ask for a free consultation to discuss the potential for a civil suit about the matter.

There are likely things going on that your organization sees differently than you do. I don’t know the truth of the situation, so it could be that their views are justified, based on the investigation and the statements of your coworkers. There have been many cases of employees making up or exaggerating stories to hurt a boss they don’t like. But, there are also cases of employees telling the truth but not being believed.

From an outside perspective it seems there are some potentially serious results for you down the line and you should be protecting yourself. If you truly have a solid case to show that a law was broken by the actions of your boss sexually harassing you and that now you are being retaliated against because you complained, you should take this further.

The one thing to keep in mind is that while it is true a boss can lie to say you should be fired, if your company is a large one the liability for that is severe and they know it. Especially after you have made an accustation of sexual harassment. There will have to be rules violations or something more than just the whim of the boss to make it happen.

In any event, there is no mild advice that is sufficient for your concerns. I can advise you to make sure you are not talking badly about the company or the boss at work. Also, make sure you are doing your job effectively and building a strong group of supporters through your good relationships. But, those might not be enough if there are serious problems and a desire to get rid of what they consider to be the sources of the problems.

These things are rarely as simple as they sound on paper–so I would imagine you and the others had problems with the boss in ways not related just to the sexual harassment issue. Those will also come out and may or may not help your case. But, if you can show you are diligently working and doing the best possible job without infractions or stirring up trouble or anger, that can be a tremendous help if this is looked at by anyone else.

Best wishes as you find a way to deal with this through legal or civil channels.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.