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How common are retaliation complaints?

You think you've been sexually harassed at work. Your supervisor acted inappropriately. You know that it violated your rights.

However, you're still scared to speak up. You're at a very low level in the company. You feel like it will be you up against a juggernaut. Won't they just fire you if you complain, or slash your hours, or cut your pay?

The first thing you should know is that retaliation of this sort is illegal. Workers have a right to voice complaints without being fired or otherwise punished. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notes that workers would be afraid to bring illegal actions to light if they thought they were just going to be fired, so they must be given the freedom to file complaints without fear -- regardless of the end result of those cases.

That being said, retaliation complaints show that this is still very common. For instance, the EEOC published a report saying that the amount of employee complaints that included retaliation allegations came in at a full 48 percent in 2013. The percent of "findings of discrimination based on retaliation" then came in at 42 percent.

In short, just under half of all cases include retaliation of one type or another. This is still a very real threat that employees face after being sexually harassed or discriminated against, even though it's illegal.

As such, it's wise to spend less time worrying about retaliation and more time considering your legal options and your rights as a worker. If you stand up against sexual harassment and the company retaliates, you may then have two cases against them.

Source: EEOC, "Retaliation - Making it Personal," accessed June 09, 2017

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