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Retaliation can stick even if underlying complaint doesn’t

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Employees who report harassment are protected from retaliation, even if the underlying complaint lacks merit.

Recent case: From day one, Robert’s co-worker tormented him with sexual comments, groping, offensive touching and other demeaning acts such as poking him in the rear.

Robert complained to management. He eventually was transferred after walking off the job site.

Then he sued, alleging sexual ­har­assment and retaliation. But he couldn’t prove that the co-worker was motivated by sexual desire, which killed his sexual harassment case.

The case for retaliation was closer. The court said Robert could reasonably have believed he was being sexually harassed. Therefore, he was protected from retaliation for reporting that belief. But because he walked off the job, he lost his case. (Wasek v. Arrow Energy, No. 10-2418, 6th Cir., 2012)

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