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Complaining about co-worker’s harassment may be protected

by on
in Employment Law,HR Management,Human Resources

Employees who complain that a co-worker is being sexually harassed by a supervisor may be engaging in protected activity.

That’s because a good-faith complaint may amount to opposition to a discriminatory employment practice. Punishing that employee may then be illegal retaliation.

Recent case: Rocco Stezzi worked at a food concession at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies. He began dating a co-worker and observed that their common supervisor followed her and sent her suggestive letters. He complained to HR that she was being sexually harassed. Shortly after, he was terminated for allegedly arguing with that same supervisor.

He sued, alleging retaliation for opposing an illegal employment practice (his supervisor’s harassment).

The court said the case should go to trial because his complaint was protected activity and his discharge might be retaliation. (Stezzi v. Aramark Sports, No. 07-5121, ED PA 2009)

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