Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Unfortunately, workplace retaliation is not always easy to spot

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2022 | Retaliation, Sexual Harassment

Few things you go through at work are likely to be more disheartening than sexual harassment. After all, if you do not feel comfortable at your place of employment, both your job performance and personal life are likely to suffer. Sadly, the nightmare may not end when you report inappropriate behavior.

According to the Time’s Up Foundation, 72% of employees who experience sexual harassment also encounter retaliation. Retaliation happens when someone at your job takes adverse employment action against you after you stand up for yourself.

Bright-line retaliation

The clearest example of retaliation is when an employer fires an employee because of his or her sexual harassment complaint. While it certainly is possible for an employer to blame the employee’s termination on the complaint, most employers know better. Consequently, identifying workplace retaliation may not be as easy as you think.

Subtler retaliation

Often, the retaliation employees face after complaining about sexual harassment is subtle. While subtle discrimination may be more difficult to spot, it still violates the law. If your employer does one or more of the following after you push back against sexual harassment, you may be the victim of illegal workplace retaliation:

  • Changing your work schedule to a less appealing one
  • Refusing your request to attend job training
  • Leaving you out of meetings
  • Denying you a promotion or pay raise


In-the-know employers are likely to blame impermissible retaliation on something else. For example, your employer may claim the denial of your promotion is due to your inability to meet your sales goals. If retaliation is the true motive, this is pretext. While it can be difficult to document pretext, there are ways to uncover it.

Ultimately, if you believe your employer may be retaliating against you, you may have a limited time both to stop the retaliation and to save your job.