In today's era where bullying is everywhere, the message to kids and adults is clear: Those who see it happening have every right to take action. This even holds true when one employee hears about sexual harassment on the job and reprimands the offender in order to make it stop. Recently, one Texas jury awarded a sexual harassment whistleblower more than $1 million after she was unfairly treated.
The whistleblower, a woman who was working in an executive position at a Texas water authority, the San Antonio Water System, reportedly heard about a colleague sexually harassing two colleagues in 2006. Though she did not witness it directly, she was convinced that her colleagues were telling the truth. Rather than ignoring the behavior, she confronted her co-worker on his actions.
The woman was later terminated, and she believes that termination was a direct result of her taking action. As the verdict shows, a jury agreed with her. Moreover, an appeals court did as well after her former employer sought reversal of the jury's verdict. The money she was awarded is for lost wages, damages, other costs and legal fees.
In cases such as this, the evidence must back up the allegations. Although the Texas whistleblower's previous employer alleged her evidence was weak, the verdict indicates otherwise. It supports the conclusion that she was retaliated against and, therefore, lost a significant amount of wages because of the fallout. Ironically, the worker who allegedly committed sexual harassment is still employed by the water company as a vice president. It is unclear as to whether the verdict will impact his status with the company.
Source: San Antonio Express-News, Appeals court rules against SAWS on cut job, Nolan Hicks, Oct. 28, 2013