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What are my rights when I am demoted from my position after submitting a verbal sexual harassment claim to management?

Phoenix, AZ |

I work at a restaurant. I reported a woman for sexually harassing me at work and outside of work. No written report was given for me to sign and nothing came of it, but she was promoted a week later.

She apologized to me for her behavior, but would still text me late at night. After her promotion I didn't know what to do, so I tried to play nice. She made advances toward me again 2 weeks ago, and I politely declined them.

Two days later she told me she went to management with some text messages I had sent. They were not incriminating on my part, but I was demoted, and was told they were not allowed to discuss the reasons for the demotion with me.

What are my options?

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Attorney answers 3


Many questions come to mind. Were you having any performance problems prior to your demotion? If so, were these documented? If management decided to demote you based on its perception that your work performance was unsatisfactory (accurate or not), then you would have no legal recourse to contest the demotion.

Another important consideration is who made the decision to demote you. If this female coworker became your manager by virtue of her promotion and decided to demote you for your prior sexual harassment complaint against her (when you two were coworkers), then perhaps you would have a retaliation claim. Otherwise, if the decision-maker was someone else, the connection between your prior complaint against the female coworker and your demotion appears to be a tenuous one (unless there are exceptional circumstances you have not revealed here).

As to the complaint your female coworker reported, did management or HR ever question you about the text messages you sent to her? Do you think you may have violated company policy in any way by sending them? If you were the subject of a workplace investigation, at minimum you should have been afforded a meaningful opportunity to tell your side of the story. If you were not afforded a chance to explain what happened and demoted as a result of your female coworker's seemingly fabricated complaint, then it appears as though you have a legitimate gripe. However, even these circumstances may not be sufficient to support any viable legal claim.

Your best bet is to consult with a knowledgeable employment lawyer licensed in your area. You have not provided enough facts here to permit a thorough evaluation of your potential claims.


Time to go visit with an employment rights attorney who handles sexual harassment cases now.

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See a sexual harassment attorney, file with state labor and EEOC.

The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.

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