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Employers retaliated against woman who filed discrimination complaint

Workers in San Diego should have a basic understanding of their rights so that they can feel safe if they ever need to file a discrimination or harassment complaint. Most importantly, workers should understand that they should never have to endure discrimination or harassment in the workplace. This type of behavior is illegal. It is also illegal for employers to retaliate against those who do file formal complaints.

If retaliation does occur, an employer could be held liable for violating a worker's rights. Retaliation might include demoting a worker, harassing a worker or firing a worker. Retaliation could even include disclosing the worker's complaint to other employers.

For example, two companies recently settled an employee's case after both companies were accused of firing the worker because she had filed a sex discrimination complaint. The worker claimed that she was fired from an oil company as a result of sex discrimination. She did find a new job, but was later fired from that job after her new employer learned of the complaint that she had filed against her former employer. Both companies were accused of retaliation.

The woman was fired from the oil company in July 2008. She believed that she had been discriminated against because of her sex, so she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

During this time, the woman had already been hired at another company. When her former employer learned that the sex discrimination claim would not be investigated further, the company disclosed the information with the woman's new employer. She was fired that same day. The company claimed she was let go due to a staff reduction.

The companies violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC argued, by retaliating against the worker who was only trying to protect her rights in the workplace.

Aside from paying more than $62,000 to settle the claim, the companies agreed to provide the worker with a job reference for a future position as well as add and enforce policies regarding workplace discrimination.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Vitol and Johnson Controls to Pay $62,500 to Settle EEOC Lawsuit for Retaliation," Sept. 4, 2012

  • Our firm handles a variety of employment and labor law issues, including similar situations like the one discussed in this blog post. To learn more about employees' rights in the workplace, please visit our San Diego employment lawyers page.