What can I do if I was laid off due to restructuring but after I filed a complaint about a hostile work environment?

I worked for a university medical group for about 10 months when I was laid off last month for restructuring purposes. Before I was laid off, I filled a complaint with HR and requested an early transfer due to being exposed to a hostile work environment. That same day I reported to HR a staff member being inappropriately touched by a provider. Neither issue was resolved and I was laid off supposedly due to restructuring.

Asked on June 26, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The answer depends on whether the restructuring was real or not. While you cannot be retailed against for reporting an inappropriate touching or hostile work environment (assuming that the hostility was directed at employees due to their race, color, national origin, religion, age 40 or over, or sex), that does not prevent termination for legitimate, unrelated reasons. If a number of positions, not just yours, were eliminated by a restructuring, and you were included in the restructuring for valid reasons (like your department being eliminated; several jobs like yours being eliminated; etc.), then you most likely do not have a legal claim--again, even with a complaint having been filed, you can be terminated or your job eliminated for other legitimate reasons. 
However, if the lay off appears to have been pretextual, in that (for example; an extreme case) only you were restructured, or there is no apparent non-retaliatory reason for your inclusion in it, then this may have been illegal retaliation against you for having filed a complaint. If you believe this was the case, you should contact the Equal Empoyment Opportunity Commission or EEOC to discuss the situation and possibly file a complaint for both the behavior behind your original complaint and for the retaliation.


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