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I Was Fired For Refusing Sexual Advances. Is This Legal?

Woman in restaurant bar looking concerned

While the #MeToo movement inspired many to come forward with their stories, sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace are still issues in many organizations. A new survey found that one in three women between the ages of 18-and 34 reports experiencing sexual harassment at work. Our Morgantown employment law team discusses workplace retaliation, the laws against it, and steps you can take when fired due to retaliation.

Workplace Retaliation & Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. If refusing these advances results in your termination, this would be considered retaliation. Generally, workplace retaliation includes an employer's adverse decision or action because an employee exercised protected employment rights under federal and state laws. The two types of sexual harassment are;

  1. Hostile work environment
  2. Quid pro quo

Being fired for refusing to sleep with your superior qualifies as quid pro quo sexual harassment because it insinuates "a favor for a favor."

Protections Provided By Law

West Virginia has strong laws which protect workers victims of retaliation by their employers. The West Virginia Human Rights Act safeguards employees from retaliation for reporting unlawful acts such as sexual harassment. Other protections include;

  • West Virginia Patient Safety Act
  • West Virginia Workers' Compensation Act, and
  • violations of substantial public policy of West Virginia.

In addition to state law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides federal protection to employees.

Steps to Take

There are steps to take when reporting sexual harassment and retaliation. To file a retaliation claim, the employee must provide evidence that the employer's reason for terminating the employee was truly retaliation and not based on company-wide layoffs or a decline in the employee's performance.

Retaliating and sexual harassment against an employee is illegal and grounds for a lawsuit. It is recommended to seek the assistance of an experienced employment lawyer to evaluate your particular situation and provide guidance.

How We Can Help

Sexual harassment and retaliation can take an emotional toll on someone and a financial one. Losing employment has financial repercussions on you and your family. At Bailess Law Firm PLLC, our dedicated team of lawyers can provide you with the support you need to get the restitution you deserve.

If you have been fired due to retaliation, we could help. Please fill out our online contact form or call us today at (304) 841-0037