Understanding Worker’s Rights


What is Retaliation?

Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an employee for engaging in a legally protected activity. This punishment does not have to be outright termination of the employee. Anything from lowering the employee’s wages, lower the employee’s work hours, changing the employee’s job function can be considered retaliation. Any action the employer takes that would deter a reasonable person in the situation from making a complaint can constitute retaliation.

What are my Rights?

As an employee, you are legally protected when you make a complaint, either internally or externally to an outside body like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a private attorney, about workplace discrimination, harassment, or other illegal practices. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for making an internal complaint, making an external complaint, or engaging in a lawsuit to protect the employee’s rights. If you have been fired, had your hours lowered, had your pay lowered, or otherwise suffered in some way for speaking up about your rights you may have suffered an illegal retaliation action. Contact our attorneys and we will help you understand your rights, understand how to protect yourself, and help you respond to any illegal action.

Sexual Harassment

What is Sexual Harassment?

It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s gender. Harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can take many forms, some of which are quite subtle, such as sexual jokes, sexual innuendos, or unwanted touching. There are generally two types of harassment.

Quid Pro Quo

this occurs when a superior offers a promotion, raise, or some other type of work consideration in exchange for sexual favors. This can also occur where an employee is sexually extorted, blackmailed or threatened with the loss of his or her job unless he or she performs sexual favors.

Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment occurs when the employer itself has a culture that is “raucous” or “free-wheeling.” This occurs when the employer does not take action against reported misconduct or when the unwanted conduct is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment.

What should I do if I am being sexually harassed?

Say no

You must make sure the harasser knows, verbally or in writing, that you consider the conduct unwelcome. Firmly refuse all invitations to dating, or personal interaction outside of work.

Report the conduct to your employer

It is imperative that you report the harassment because your employer must know or have reason to know about the harassment in order to be legally responsible for the co-worker, client, or customer’s behavior.

Keep records

As soon as you experience behavior you believe to be sexual harassment write it down: write down what was said by everyone, what date and time it occurred at, any witnesses to the behavior, and exactly what happened. Keep copies of your performance evaluations, emails, or letters that document the quality of your work. Save any email or other writing that documents the harassment. Save all of your employer’s responses to reported harassment. This is important evidence that can show a court that the employer knew about the behavior and did not act to protect you. It can also go to show a hostile work environment. Offhand comments are not illegal however if the comments or behavior is frequent or severe in nature then it may go on to show that a hostile environment exists.

Know your rights

Whether you want the behavior to stop, you want to negotiate a peaceful exit from your employer with an appropriate exit package, or bring action to recover the lawyers at Anderson Alexander can help. We can ensure your confidentiality and privacy are protected and that your rights are upheld.