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Employer may not retaliate against employee who helps co-worker oppose sexual harassment

In Collazo v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Manufacturing, Inc., the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston held that Mr. Collazo’s case against his former employer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, could go forward. (The First Circuit is the federal appellate court which serves the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the territory of Puerto Rico). Mr. Collazo alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb retaliated against him because, when a co-worker told him about sexual harassment she experienced, he helped her complain to human resources (HR) about the sexual harassment. Mr. Collazo helped by arranging a meeting with HR and accompanying the co-worker to the meeting.

The First Circuit applied the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County. In Crawford, the Supreme Court rejected the attempts of some federal courts to permit employers to retaliate against employees who opposed sexual harassment unless the employee was the first to initiate the complaint. The First Circuit held that, even if Mr. Collazo said nothing about the sexual harassment to HR, the company still could not retaliate against him because his actions implied that he opposed the sexual harassment.

If you experience sexual harassment or your employer retaliates against you because you have opposed sexual harassment, you should speak to a lawyer experienced in representing employees in these types of cases.