Do I have any legal recourse for workplace bullying and/or sexual harassment?

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Do I have any legal recourse for workplace bullying and/or sexual harassment?

I am a manager who works in a seriously dysfunctional office. People whom I “supervise” and who have considerable job security have attempted to undermine my position by spreading lies about my performance (I can document that they are lies), including to my supervisor. These individuals have also bullied and sexually harassed other members of my unit, have retaliated against those individuals, and are now, I believe, retaliating against me for reporting the behavior to our HR department. In general, they are not verbally abusive to my face. Do I have any legal recourse?

Asked on July 7, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Actions for sexual harrassment and hostile work environments tend to be very fact specific-- but the facts you describe are heading in the direction of one or both of these types of suits. 

Sexual harrassment involves sexual acts directed against another that create a hostile work environment for the recipient of the harrassment.  Retaliation claims can be based on someone reporting a claim and then being retaliated against for the report. 

For either type of complaint, the law generally requires that you first report the bad acts to the entity responsible by company policy for responding to sexual harrassment or retaliation claims.  Usually, this is the HR department.  If you have not reported your retaliation issue, you need to do so.  If you are being retaliated against for your prior report (in any manner-- to your face or not), then you would have a valid claim.  If HR does nothing to correct or improve the situation, then you can go forward with filing your complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  You are not required to have an attorney through this process, but it is always helpful to have one taking you through the steps because administrative rules are usually interpreted very strictly.  If you miss a step, then your complaint and remedies can be quickly thrown out on a technicality.


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