The Family Research Council, a Christian conservative advocacy group, has been sued by a former employee for unlawful retaliation . The complaint by plaintiff Moira Gaul stems from a claim she filed against the FRC for sexual harassment in 2009.
Gaul alleges that shortly after she filing her complaint with a government agency, she was fired. So much for family values.
The FRC opposes gay marriage, abortion, and divorce, among other things. But Gaul's lawsuit suggests that beneath the surface, the group isn't so family-friendly.
Gaul worked as the director of women's and reproductive health at the FRC, specializing in abstinence, reports The Huffington Post. Shortly after she filed her sexual harassment claim, Gaul's position was terminated.
The FRC cited a lack of funding for abstinence programs.
But three months later, funding for abstinence programs at the FRC was somehow re-established, and a new person was hired with a job description that was substantially similar to Gaul's.
Federal law protects employees who make complaints about their work environment to administrative agencies designed to protect workers.
Employers can't fire an employee for filing a complaint. That's considered a retaliatory firing.
Of course, that employee can still be fired for other reasons, like funding cuts. But in a lawsuit, the employee can try to show that those reasons were really a pretense to get rid of a complaining worker.
That appears to be what Gaul is trying to prove in her Family Research Council lawsuit. The evidence that money for her department reappeared soon after she was fired could potentially help her in court.
As an employee, you have the right to a safe work environment that's free from discrimination or intimidation. If that's not happening, then you can file a complaint with the appropriate worker protection agency. You could also file a lawsuit with the help of a lawyer.
Gaul's claim for sexual harassment was withdrawn from the D.C. Office of Human Rights when she settled with her employer in 2009, reports the Washington Blade. Her current retaliation claim is based on that issue, but it is not another suit for harassment.
- Employee Rights Center (FindLaw)
- Employee Rights after a Job Termination (FindLaw)
- Workplace Retaliation: Court Makes It Easier to Sue Employers (FindLaw's Decided)