Even in 2011, sexual harassment in the workplace may go unreported for fear of retaliation -- and retaliation is not unheard of. A true-life example, according to a recently filed federal suit, is the case of a Colorado woman who was a plaintiff in a sexual harassment claim a few years ago. She accepted a settlement; another woman involved in the suit did not.
She was fired. The other woman was not.
The original suit, filed in 2006 by several female employees, alleged that the Denver-based car dealership and financing company allowed employees to display pornographic images on their computers and to use lewd language. When employees complained to management about the hostile work environment, the company retaliated, according to the claim.
When settlement negotiations failed, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit. Six of the women, including the woman making the current complaint, participated in one settlement, though not all accepted their share of the $70,000 award.
In Colorado, an employee who believes he or she has been the victim of discrimination or sexual harassment must first report the incident to the EEOC or to the Colorado Civil Rights Division. That claim must be filed within 300 days of the (private) employer's wrongdoing. In some circumstances, including when mandated conciliation between the employer and the employee fails, the EEOC will file a lawsuit against the employer.
The current suit was filed by the EEOC. The complaint alleges that the employer intentionally fired the woman as a result of her participation in the settlement. She had worked there for 10 years.
The suit is asking for back pay and compensation for emotional distress. The EEOC is also seeking punitive damages.
Source: Denverpost.com, Moreland Group among companies accused of retaliating against female employee, Associated Press, 13 Jun, 2011