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Experiencing retaliation following a disclosure?

The law protects you from retaliation – below are some links to explain victim blaming and examples of how you can protect yourself.

Rape Culture, Victim Blaming, And The Facts

Rape culture is a term coined in the 1970s designed to show the ways in which society blames victims of sexual assault and normalizes male sexual violence. It allows us to live in a society where it is acceptable to teach sexualized violence prevention as “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape”.

Rape culture is where sexual violence in a community, workplace , group is not taken seriously. Often this culture will blame the victim or intermate that the victim was equally to blame. If you are experiencing a rape culture in the community where you live or at work – it is NOT acceptable.

Humour that normalizes and justifies sexual violence is not acceptable. Call it out

It is their guilt, their lies, their shame and their mis – management that create the noise of their defense.

Stand in your truth.

• Inside Southern : Rape Culture, Victim Blaming, And The Facts - https://inside.southernct.edu/sexual-misconduct/facts

• UN Womens : 16 ways you can stand against rape culture - https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2019/11/compilation-ways-you-can-stand-against-rape-culture

• Brandon University – rape culture -https://www.brandonu.ca/sexualviolence/education-prevention/rape-culture/

Why Do People Blame the Victim?

The #MeToo movement has highlighted the widespread problem of men’s sexual harassment of women. Women are typically reluctant to make a sexual-harassment complaint and often encounter victim-blaming attitudes when they do, especially from men.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0361684319868730

Victim-blaming is the tendency to view victims as responsible for the violent acts perpetuated against them. Victim-blaming implies the fault for events such as domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, and other acts of violence lies with the victim rather than the perpetrator. Common negative social reactions include anger, disbelief or scepticism , implicit or explicit blame, and even the refusal of assistance for victims seeking help. Victim blaming also takes many forms and can be quite subtle.

https://wisewisconsin.org/blog/challenging-victim-blaming/

Blaming the victim is a phenomenon in which victims of crimes or tragedies are held accountable for what happened to them. Victim blaming allows people to believe that such events could never happen to them. Blaming the victim is known to occur in rape and sexual assault cases, where the victim of the crime is often accused of inviting the attack due to her clothing or behaviour.

https://www.verywellmind.com/why-do-people-blame-the-victim-2795911

The law protects you from retaliation. Here’s how you can protect yourself;

What to do if you are experiencing victimisation retaliation following a disclosure

Human Rights Commission

Contact the Commission via their free human rights info and support phone service if you have concerns about community victimization retaliation following a workplace sexual harassment disclosure. If you do not feel safe and are experiencing on – going retaliation victimisation the Human Rights Commission may investigate under Section 5 if they feel your on – going situation may be beaching your right to mental health and safety within your community.

InfoLine: 0800 496 877 (toll free) (Int. 006493090874)
Fax: 09 377 3593 (Attn: InfoLine)
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz (for general enquiries)
TXT: 0210 236 4253
How to make a complaint info: https://www.hrc.co.nz/enquiries-and-complaints/how-make-complaint
On- line complaint form: https://www.hrc.co.nz/complaint-form/

Victimisation: Victimising people because they have claimed their rights under the Human Rights Act or because they have made a disclosure under the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 is prohibited. https://www.hrc.co.nz/how-we-can-help/

1/ If you are experiencing workplace retaliation in a new workplace;

If you are experiencing workplace retaliation in a new workplace following a disclosure contact Worksafe NZ. A person or a business cannot discriminate or take other negative steps against you because of your involvement in a work health and safety issue. It’s against the law for a person or business to discriminate or take other negative steps against you because you've spoken up about workplace health and safety.

Worksafe NZ is New Zealand’s primary work health and safety regulator.

0800 030 040 ( 24hours) Freephone
www.worksafe.govt.nz

Protections for workers information page;

https://worksafe.cwp.govt.nz/managing-health-and-safety/workers/protections-for-workers/

If you or your workmates have concerns, you can talk to us in confidence.

Resolving workplace health and safety issues information and get help page where attempts have been made and have failed to resolve a work health and safety issue the employee can request WorkSafe to appoint an inspector to assist with the resolution of the issue. You can call them or download, fill out and email them the below PCF form.

https://worksafe.cwp.govt.nz/managing-health-and-safety/resolving-workplace-health-and-safety-issues/
Request assistance to resolve a work health and safety issue (PDF 288 KB)

Email the completed form to healthsafety.notifications@worksafe.govt.nz

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 - 83 Right of worker to cease or refuse to carry out unsafe work

This is an important piece of legislation to be aware of to enable you discontinue work if you are feeling unsafe in your new workplace, due to retaliation victimisation. You can then notify your employer and plan your action to mediate regarding this.

https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2015/0070/latest/DLM5977016.html?search=sw_096be8ed81a49df3_ceasing_25_se&p=1&sr=5

2/ If you are experiencing retaliation from your community whilst at work;

If you work in customer services and serve the general public , the risk of receiving retaliation victimization can be higher, especially if you work in a small community where people may be aware of your disclosure.
No one has the right to further victimise you , this can be very devastating for victims of workplace sexual harassment disclosure .

You can protect yourself via the law. The law can protect yourself against this via your right to use the “Trespass” wording.

As confirmed by the NZ Police , if you receive abusive comments from your customers whilst serving them you have the right to use the “trespass wording” to warn them that they will not be welcome in your workplace if they abuse you. You can say to them “ I fell you are verbally abusing me, I would like you to please leave the premises.” Try to get their name if possible and write down a description of them , noting what they said. Your employer is supposed to protect you against this. If they don’t , you have the right to raise your concern with Worksafe NZ.

3/ If you are experiencing retaliation from a staff member when you are shopping , dining or going out and you are a customer;

If you are receiving retaliation victimization from a staff member when you are shopping , dining or going out you have the right to complain to their store manager.

Note the staff person’s name if they are wearing a name tag, write down what they said to you and a description of what they look like. This will enable you to email a complaint to their store manager advising of the unprofessional and abusing manner of the staff member that abused you. You can also CC the head office if it is a chain store, which will help enforce the seriousness of your complaint.

4/ If you are experiencing retaliation from the general public, other customers when you are dining or going out for entertainment;

If you are receiving retaliation victimization from the general public when you are going out within your community, eg dinner , you have the right to complain to the manager of the establishment. You can ask to be moved , eg move tables if you are dining, or moved seats if watching a movie, etc. Note down what is said and a description of what they look like if possible. If it is on -going abuse from the same people, you can lodge a complaint with your local Police Station, so they can investigate what is going on. You will be able to contact the Constable if you are receiving on – going retaliation abuse.

Your local police station will have a Community Constable who is the local Community Liaison Officer , who liaises with the community. You will be able to contact the Constable if you are receiving on – going retaliation abuse. You can call the Police on their 105 number for advice and go in to your local Police station.

New Zealand Police
Find Police stations by map local Police station.
Call 105 Police Non Emergency
https://www.police.govt.nz/105info

Click to view the list of potential retaliation scenarios

Disclosure company and co – worker retaliation – possible scenarios

What often stops disclosure of workplace sexual harassment is the fear of retaliation, from the company management, legal team and work colleagues.

Below are listed some possible potential scenarios that may occur if you choose to disclose the abuse, either to a work colleague or manager or company HR representative. It is important to seek legal advice, support and representation if you choose to disclose the abuse.

Company and co – worker retaliation possible scenarios;
If the perpetrator of the workplace sexual harassment is your manager, the company may choose to take his, or her side, as companies often choose to keep the employee that produces the most profit for the company. They may choose not to believe you. In this case the company can use various tactics to intimidate you.

The company may want to protect itself if they have not implemented proper policies and processes to educate and stop sexual harassment in their workplace. Co – workers may choose to not believe you, as they have not witnessed the abuse and have a good co-worker relationship with the perpetrator. Co– workers may also choose not to believe you or may choose not to support you for fear of jeopardizing their own jobs. Co- workers may also not choose to support you due to competition for positions within the company, for their own job gain advantage.

If the perpetrator of the workplace sexual harassment is your co -worker the company and your co – workers may in this case also choose to not believe you. Companies often choose to keep the employee that produces the most profit for the company. The company may want to protect itself if they have not implemented proper policies and processes to educate and stop sexual harassment in their workplace. Co – workers may choose to not believe you, as they have not witnessed the abuse and have a good co-worker relationship with the perpetrator. In both Company and employee retaliation cases the various retaliation scenarios may be as listed below;

- Try to make you feel like you are making a big deal out of nothing.
- Try to make you feel inferior.
- Try to make you feel afraid and powerless.
- Try to isolate you.
- Try to turn your work colleagues against you.
- Try to humiliate you.
- Try to imply that you are weak and you “need to toughen up”.
- Try to blame you for causing the abuse.
- Try to minimize the perpetrator’s abusive behavior.
- Try to imply that you are not mentally unstable and “sick” and thus imagined or exaggerated the abuse.
- Try to imply that the perpetrator’s behavior was due to that fact that he, or she “was in love”, or that you were the one “in love.”
- Try to imply that you just didn’t “fit into the team” and you were “not a team player”, “you were boring” or a bad fit for the team “all it takes is one bad apple.”
- Try to imply that your work for the company was sub – standard. It is important to keep copies of your manager’s performance reviews, so you can discredit this if it has not been noted in previous performance reviews.
- The company may impede the performance of your work computer, to disable your work performance.
- The company may slow your work stream jobs to make it look as if you haven’t got any work to do, thus are not a required member for the team.
- The company may delete important documentation saved on your work computer. It is important that you save and print off all of your performance reviews or any documentation pertaining to your case.
- If you have disclosed the abuse you should not have to come in to work that day, nor the following day. Your union representative, legal representative or company HR manager should advise you to stay home until further notice of the correct following procedures.
- If you have chosen to disclose the abuse you should not be asked “What would you like done about this – would you like the perpetrator fired or would you like the perpetrator to receive a warning? ” This should not be your responsibility, you will not be thinking clearly and will be stressed. The onus for what should be done about the abuse should follow on from the investigation and should sit with the legal teams involved.
- The company may use an HR mediator company employee to investigate your case and interview all of the co -workers and management involved. This is a conflict of interests, due to the fact that the HR representative is on the companie's pay-role, so will have a vested interest in protecting the company. An impartial third party representative should be employed to perform the investigation.
- The company may submit a findings report to you following their investigation, which may include un- truths from the co – workers and managers interviewed. You have the right to reply to this, if you are not given the opportunity to reply, this represents further intimidation tactics by the company.
- You have the right to mediation, to try to mediate for a solution to the sexual harassment to enable you to remain in your employment if you so wish to. If you are not given this right to mediate, proper process has not been followed.
- If a settlement has been agreed to, (if you decide you no longer wish to be employed by your company) a company reference should be included with your settlement to enable you to apply for further work opportunities. If a reference has not been supplied with your settlement, proper process has not been followed.
- If a settlement has been agreed upon the company must pay the agreed amount by the agreed date. The victim should not have to chase up for the payment, this is further intimidation by the company.

All the above scenarios are not an appropriate response to the workplace sexual harassment disclosure. The company and their legal team will be trying to protect their management team, as they understand that workplace sexual harassment is serious and will be trying to negate their own company’s blame. If the company has not had in place proper processes and procedures to educate and stop sexual harassment in their workplace and have not protected their staff they can be fined heavily.

If the correct response has not been implemented by the company and you experience retaliation you should document this, as this can be drawn on for further settlement evidence of mis- conduct and the case can be taken to the Employment Relations Authority . The Employment Relations Authority can resolve disputes about employment issues including sexual harassment if mediation has failed to resolve your complaint. The Employment Court deals with cases about employment disputes. The Employment Court also deals with challenges to Employment Relations Authority decisions.

It is important to seek legal advice, support and representation if you choose to disclose the abuse.

Disclosure community and future employment retaliation – possible scenarios

What often stops disclosure of workplace sexual harassment is the fear of retaliation, not only from the employee’s company and co -workers – but also from the community that the employee may live in. The perpetrator, co – workers or company management employees may live in the same community as the abused employee, which places the victim in a compromised and vulnerable position. The victim can be targeted for further retaliation abuse outside of the workplace experiencing further verbal “gaslighting”, in -validation and purposeful bullying and isolation.

This can also follow on into future employment, if employed within the same community area, or if the network within the victim’s particular genre of work have been told un – truths about the victim. The victim’s new employer can perpetrate abusive, in -validation, humiliation and defamatory comments about the victim to other staff members, the general public and members of the victim’s broader work community if the employer has been told mis -truths about the victim , or if the employer has chosen not to believe the victim’s claim of sexual harassment. The victim’s new employer can turn the victim’s work colleagues against them if in future employment within the same community or work genre. The victim’s new workplace employees and work colleagues can make jokes about the situation if they have heard rumors about the victim, as they may either not believe the victim or think what the victim went through is “funny”.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is not “funny” and it is not something that should be made fun of. The victims of sexual harassment should never be made fun of.

Below are listed some possible potential scenarios that may occur if you choose to disclose the abuse. It is important to consider the full consequences of disclosure and seek legal advice, support and representation if you choose to disclose the abuse. It is very important to have a strong personal support network around you, who will validate your disclosure actions and support you within your community.

Community and future work retaliation - possible scenarios;
If you live in the same community as your perpetrator, co – workers or company management employees, further abuse can ensue. Further abuse can also follow in future employment positions. The various retaliation scenarios may be as listed below;

- Sectors of the community can purposely isolate you by excluding you from social occasions or gatherings.
- If you do attend gatherings, you can be targeted with undermining comments, in -validation, intimidation, bullying abusive comments, “gaslighting” and humiliation.
- The school staff and parents of other childeren where your children attend can make humiliating and undermining comments about you in front of the other children, to further bully and isolate you.
- The shop staff where you shop can make humiliating comments about you whilst shopping in their premises.
- They can try to make you feel afraid and powerless and completely isolated.
- They can drug your drinks, kick you or try anything to make you look unstable and “unwell” or “slutty and flirty” if attending gatherings.

The below are possible examples of abusive invalidation and bullying “gaslighting” comments;
a/ “She loved him.”
b/ “She encouraged him.”
c/ “She’s flirty.”
d/ “She’s and slut.”
e/ “Let’s do her” and then laugh at you.
f/ “She’s boring”
g/ “She’s thick”
h/ “She’s dumb.”
i/ “She’s grumpy”
j/ “She needs to calm down”
k “She’s green”
l/ “Shes’ OTT”
m/ They can say “Metoo” and laugh.
n/ “She’s sick”
o/ “She’s schiz” (schizophrenic)
p/ “She’s moany”
q/ “She fits”…after being drugged at a party.
r/ They can body shame you and criticize your body and face in any way to make you feel ugly and inferior, suggesting that there was no way the perpetrator would be interested in you.
s/ “She’s plain”
t/ They can purposely constantly remind you of the sexual harassment, so that you are further abused every day and can not move on to a healthy state of mind. They can use comments like “Remind her” and “Everyday” and laugh.
u/ They can comment about the perpetrator’s wife, saying “She’s perfect “ , “She’s and 10” , “She’s beautiful”, “She won”, “ The perpetrator is lucky to have his wife.”
v/ They can say “The perpetrator won”
w/ They can purposely “gaslight” you in groups and laugh while looking at you.
x/ Your new employer can say to others “be nice” and then laugh at you together with the others.
y/ They can purposely try to in validate you with anything they can think of as a defense for the perpetrator.

All the above scenarios are purposeful bullying comments, aimed at further hurting and in - validating the victim. These are not appropriate community responses to workplace sexual harassment disclosure.

* Refer to our Blog Tab for the Women.govt.nz: Literature scan on workplace sexual harassment
• 26. Sexual harassment in the workplace does not occur in isolation. It is facilitated by communities and workplaces that tolerate such behaviour.

It is important to seek legal advice, support and representation if you choose to disclose the abuse.

It is very important to have strong personal support around you if you choose to disclose sexual harassment in the workplace.