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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I reported harrassment and hostile work environment through

Customer Question

I reported harrassment and hostile work environment through my manager and HR. Now I am being told I can either accept how things are in my current role or I can sign an agreement to leave the company with a 15 week severance. This is 2 months after I was being considered for a potential new position which would have been a promotion. Basically things changed as soon as I reported the issues with corresponding documentation verifying what occurred (including a supervisor referring to Muslims as terrorists) What other options do I have? I live in CO but work virtually for a company in TN if that makes a difference.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

When an employer receives a complaint regarding harassment based on race or religion, the employer has an obligation to take reasonable measures to prevent that harassment from continuing. The employer is also prohibited from retaliating against the employee for making the complaint.

Being given the options to either stay in your current role or accept severance would not be "retaliation," since by definition staying in your current role puts you in no worse position than you were in prior to making the report. And if the harassment has stopped, then the employer has done its job with respect to addressing the harassment. The grey area is the promotion that you were being considered for. Technically, if you could prove that you were denied the promotion because of your complaint then you would have a retaliation claim and damages. However, it is VERY hard to prove that you would have gotten a promotion, since your employer was presumably considering multiple candidates and employers generally have such broad lattitude to promote who they want. But, if the person they do wind up hiring is substantially less qualified than you, it's certainly possible you could make the argument that you would have been promoted "but for" your complaint about harassment.

Pursuing such a lawsuit would be your third option here, with the other two options being to do nothing at all and continue in your current role or to accept severance. If you choose to accept severance, you can also try to negotiate the amount. If they offered 15 weeks right off the bat, chances are they would be willing to offer at least 25% more. Of course, each circumstance is unique and there is no guarantee that they will increase their offer. In fact, there is no guarantee the original offer will even remain available if you counter it, though it would be very uncommon for an employer to revoke their offer.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

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It is illegal to retaliate against an employee for

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

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