Can you recover damages for workplace harassment?

Regardless of where you work, you probably expect your employer to provide a safe environment, where you are treated with dignity and respect. But reports suggest that was not the case for eight former Oregon legislative interns.

Some officials assert that no changes in the law, initiatives or amount of money could make up for your mistreatment at work. However, the Oregon Legislature and Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) recently reached a $1.1 million settlement for the women who reported experiencing workplace harassment during their time at the Capitol.

What the settlement entails

While money cannot eliminate the effects of sexual harassment experienced on the job, a lawsuit could serve to hold an employer accountable for their actions. In many cases, an investigation into harassment allegations may shed light on the changes needed within an organization, which could help to provide protection for others.

As part of the recent agreement:

· Each of eight women, whose names remain anonymous, will receive part of the settlement

· For any future complaints, lawmakers must hire outside counsel to investigate

· All materials from the investigation are to remain under a protective order, shielding the identities of those involved

If you feel someone is harassing you at work, tell them to stop. If they do not respect your wishes, you might be wise to speak with your employer about filing a complaint.

The law protects you from retaliation

It is important to remember that there are laws to protect those who report harassment in the workplace. You cannot legally lose your job or face demotion for reporting maltreatment such as unwelcome advances, derogatory language or inappropriate requests.

Whether your reports remain unaddressed or cause your employer to retaliate, you may want to explore your options.

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