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Can I Be Fired if I Report Sexual Harassment?

Reporting sexual harassment in the workplace is a courageous and necessary action to ensure a safe and respectful work environment. However, a common concern among employees is whether they can be fired for making a report, but an employer cannot legally do so. 

Can I Be Fired if I Report Sexual Harassment?

Legal Protections Against Retaliation

Firing you for reporting sexual harassment would be considered retaliation. Under both federal and California state law, employees are protected from retaliation 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

This federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who engage in protected activities, including reporting sexual harassment. Retaliation can include termination, demotion, or any other adverse employment action.

California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

Similar to Title VII, FEHA prohibits retaliation against employees who report harassment or discrimination. This includes any adverse action that might dissuade a reasonable person from making or supporting a charge of harassment.

Forms of Retaliation

Retaliation in the workplace occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee, such as firing them, for engaging in legally protected activities. This includes reporting sexual harassment. Retaliation can take various forms beyond termination, including:

  • Demotion or a reduction in pay
  • Unwarranted negative performance reviews
  • Exclusion from meetings or important projects
  • Hostile work environment
  • Increased scrutiny or micromanagement

Steps to Take if You are Fired

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated for reporting sexual harassment, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all incidents of harassment and any subsequent retaliation. This documentation should include dates, times, locations, descriptions of the incidents, and any witnesses.
  2. Report the Retaliation: Follow your company’s procedures for reporting retaliation. This usually involves informing your supervisor, HR department, or a designated harassment officer. Make sure to report the conduct as soon as possible.
  3. Seek Legal Counsel: Consult a Sexual Harassment Attorney in Orange County as soon as possible. They can provide guidance on your rights and help you gather evidence, file a formal complaint, and navigate filing a lawsuit if necessary.
  4. File a Complaint with the EEOC or CRD: If the issue is not resolved internally, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Civil Rights Department (CRD). These agencies can investigate your claim and take action against your employer if violations are found.

Types of Compensation Available in a Retaliation Claim 

Here are the main types of compensation available in a retaliation claim:

Back Pay

Covers lost wages and benefits from the time of retaliation to the settlement or court judgment, including salary, bonuses, and health insurance.

Front Pay

Compensates for future lost earnings when reinstatement isn’t feasible, including estimated future wages and benefits.

Compensatory Damages

Addresses non-economic losses like emotional distress, pain and suffering, and damage to reputation.

Punitive Damages

Punishes the employer for egregious conduct and deters future retaliation, beyond actual losses.


Restores your previous position, under the same terms and conditions.

Injunctive Relief

Court orders requiring employers to take specific actions, such as implementing anti-retaliation policies or providing training.

Attorney’s Fees and Costs

Covers legal fees and court costs if your claim is successful.