Q: Is my employer retaliating and/or discriminating against me?
March ‘18 my manager sexually harassed me. I didn’t report it until August ‘19 due to fear of retaliation and because I’m male and felt no one would listen. I reported it after speaking to a therapist about it. My employer investigated but closed the case without any findings and left it as “he said, she said”. The sexual harassment brought back a lot of difficult things I had experienced during childhood. With having to continue working with my manager I continued getting worse and started speaking to my employer about my communication difficulties with my manager. I’m also autistic (employer knew this in Nov ‘19) and the sexual harassment heightened my limitations with social interaction and communication that I have already been living with. July 1 I filed for workers compensation and submitted an accommodation request for a job transfer or to communicate with someone else besides my manager. On August 6 my employer sent me a disciplinary email about failing to communicate.
A: You need the assistance of a couple of good lawyers. First, you need a Worker's Compensation attorney to handle your work related injuries. Secondly, you need an experienced attorney who knows how to handle discrimination and harassment cases. You described a classic harassment case, and you are entitled to be compensated for all the suffering and damage your manager has caused you. You should immediately file a charge of sexual harassment against the employer and your manager, because the time within which to file such a claim is within one year of the date of the unwelcome sexual harassment. You cannot sit on your rights or you will lose them. Carefully check your timeline to pin down the very last episode of sexual harassment by your manager. The fact that your employer has kept you under the supervision of the harasser is a problem for your employer if you notified your employer previously of the sexual harassment you experienced at the hands of your manager. You really do need to contact an attorney right away, and without delay.
You can contact the Western San Bernardino County Bar Association's website and go to their lawyer referral service (LRS). You can find them here: http://wsbcba.org/ You can copy and paste the link into your browser. After you find an attorney with experience in sexual harassment cases, you can ask him to refer you to a worker's compensation attorney who can handle that aspect of your case. Female on male sexual harassment is not as rare as you might think. A good lawyer can really help you, so I urge you to act very quickly.
A: Regarding your sexual harassment claim, you probably waited too long to raise the issue to still have a meritorious legal claim. You had one year from the sexual harassment that occurred in March 2018 to file an administrative complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to preserve your right to sue. Missing that deadline means you are foreclosed from raising any injuries that arose out of that harassment in 2018. That said, if sexual harassment continued into 2019, you can still make a claim for that harassment as the limitations period changed allowing you three years from any act occurring after January 2019 to file an administrative claim.
As to the autism, simply having a disabling condition itself is not going to create a meritorious claim for disability discrimination. You will need to have informed the employer of specific restrictions that could be accommodated, or specific accommodations that you needed to allow you to perform the essential functions of your job.
As to the requested accommodation of not working with your manager, the law does not allow that as an accommodation for disability discrimination.
At this point the wise move for you is to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site, or go to www.cela.org, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.
Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law offer a free or low cost consultation in the beginning and then, if the matter has merit and value, will usually agree to work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.
Good luck to you.