Last year, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) fired popular radio host Jian Ghomeshi after a newspaper published a story about him that featured allegations that he had harassed and assaulted a number of women. Some women claimed that he had choked or punched them; others accused him of sexual harassment.
The CBC stated that Ghomeshi was fired because executives of the company saw evidence that Ghomeshi had sexually harassed and injured a woman. However, a further investigation of the situation cast doubt on the CBC’s assertion that it had responded against his behavior in a timely manner. It found three instances where the CBC failed to investigate complaints and concerns about Ghomeshi’s behavior. By failing to respond, the CBC permitted the harassment and assault to continue.
Employers are required to respond to allegations of sexual harassment and assault
If an employee complains about sexual harassment in the workplace, his or her employer must respond in a timely manner. It must conduct an impartial investigation and take appropriate action based on its findings. If the employer fails to respond or retaliates against the complainant, it may be held vicariously liable for the harasser’s behavior.
Insufficient or inappropriate employer responses
Some examples of insufficient or inappropriate employer responses to allegations of sexual harassment are:
- Ignoring the complaint/not taking the complaint seriously
- Appointing the harasser’s close friend to investigate the claim
- Giving the harasser a slap on the wrist
- Ridiculing the employee
- Firing or demoting the employee for making the complaint
If you reported sexual harassment to your employer and were responded to in an unsatisfactory, distressing, or inappropriate way, you may feel discouraged and helpless. However, you may still have the option of filing a lawsuit against your employer to recover damages for lost wages, back pay, and emotional distress.
Sexual harassment is illegal
Sexual harassment is considered a form of unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the New York State Executive Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.
An employer should not be allowed to get away with ignoring, ridiculing, or retaliating against an employee for reporting a serious workplace problem. Sexual harassment should never be tolerated. If your employer tries to downplay your sexual harassment claim, contact one of our lawyers as soon as possible to find out about your options. Call the Akin Law Group at 866.685.5163 to schedule a free consultation.