Employees Fear Reporting Sexual Harassment in Workplace

Sexual harassment in the work place is still a big problem in California and across the United States. According to a recent news article from Main Street, despite high frequency of workplace sexual harassment incidents, employees are often too afraid to report when they are harassed out of fear it will have consequences for their continued employment and advancement. This fear of reporting means victims are not telling supervisors, filing lawsuits, or taking part in lawsuits others have already filed.

So it is no surprise that a new study by law firm Slater & Gordon has revealed that one in six women have had colleagues look down their blouse, almost half have experienced comments about their breasts in the workplace and one in eight have left jobs because workplace harassed has made them feel so uncomfortable. The study suggests that sexual harassment in the workplace is rife among both men and women, with almost 40% of men also reporting experiences. But 605 of those surveyed say they have kept a possible harassment incident to themselves, making this an invisible, yet enormously common problem.

A spokesperson for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says, according to studies and other reports, one out of four women working in the United States is a victim of sexual harassment. This includes women working in the lowest paid jobs as well as the highest paid jobs at equal rates.

Workplace sexual harassment is one of the most difficult and insidious issues to tackle, because victims are so often in a position of vulnerability, afraid of damaging their careers or even losing their jobs altogether if they dare to rock the boat.

“When I was 21 my ass was regularly pinched at work. I was too afraid of losing my job to report it”.

Part of the problem is that the sort of issues reported including having your bottom pinched, is widely considered “just a bit of fun”, making it hard for employee to feel able to speak out against them.

“When a customer at work tried to reach his hand down my shirt, I wasn’t taken serious by any of my co-workers”.

Perpetrators are often much older and more experienced than their victims, and in many cases are even in a position of responsibility over them, making it near-impossible for those being harassed to complain…

“A guy at my work told me he’d get me fired if I didn’t have sex with him. His brother was the boss”.

What’s worse is that even when victims do find the courage to come forward, they frequently report being dismissed, as the problem is belittled and normalized.

“A male boss said he’d ‘love to bend me over’ and more I reported it to female supervisor who said I was being ‘sensitive’”

Often, there is a sense that everybody is “in on the joke”, so victims feel unable to speak up for fear of being branded humorless, or a troublemaker.

“While I was bending over to pick up stock, male colleague grabbed my hips and stimulated sex. Everyone else laughed”.

As Los Angles sexual harassment attorneys explain, there are laws preventing sexual harassment in the workplace, and, as victim, you have a right to file a lawsuit – in many cases seeking not only protection from unjust termination or other workplace discrimination but also to seek compensation for your injuries.

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  1. http://www.orangecountyemploymentlawyersblog.com/2015/05/13/employees-fear-reporting-sexual-harassment-in-workplace/
  2. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2013/oct/23/sexual-harassment-workplace-endemic-women

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