Reporting sexual harassment got her fired, California woman says

Posted in Sexual Harassment on August 15, 2013

It has been said that “no good deed goes unpunished.” This is, of course, a humorous way of saying that choosing to do the right thing sometimes has unintended negative consequences. Sadly, when it comes to battling sexual harassment in the workplace, the statement is often apt.

Employees may put up with sexual harassment for years because they are afraid of what will happen to their jobs if they report it. When one employee does have the courage to report this inappropriate behavior, their worst fears often come true. They suddenly find themselves facing retaliation and wrongful termination.

A good example of this just occurred in nearby Stockton, California. A woman alleges that she was fired from the dental clinic at the University of Pacific, Stockton, because she finally chose to speak up about inappropriate sexual comments that a supervisor had been making for years.

The woman said that among his other inappropriate comments, he once remarked that a leopard-print scrubs top she was wearing reminded him of his ex-girlfriend’s underwear. She said that many other women were also victims of his sexual harassment but that “no one ever had the guts to speak against him because he’s the director of a clinic and no one will ever say anything against a person who has power.”

She and others did finally work up the courage to report his inappropriate behavior to the university, but the human resources office allegedly failed to do anything about it. After the complaints were filed, the women were given more demanding workloads coupled with uncharacteristically negative performance reviews.

Eventually, the woman was forced to resign due to the retaliation and hostile work environment. In California, quitting under such circumstances can often constitute wrongful termination. She has since filed a lawsuit against her former supervisor.

What happened to this woman is sadly common. We would all like to think that our employers will support us when we have the courage to speak out against illegal behavior at work. But sadly, there is some truth to the saying that “no good deed goes unpunished.”

In situations like this one, it is important to remember that there are strong advocates available to help victims of sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination. If you have been a victim of any of these illegal workplace behaviors, you may wish to contact an experienced employment law attorney.

Source:, “Stockton woman says she was fired for reporting sexual harassment,” Suzanne Phan, July