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Alarming Statistics on Unreported Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

With the recent movement of women coming forward to share their stories of sexual harassment in Hollywood, in government, and in the media, many would be surprised that nearly 75% of sexual harassment victims in the workplace still do not report the abuse, according to a recent survey. Nevertheless, when employers receive sexual harassment complaints, they must take them seriously.

Who are the harassers and who are the victims of workplace harassment?

According to surveys, 12% of employees have been sexually harassed at work, the majority of whom, were women. Thirteen percent of employees who felt harassed, reported quitting their jobs because of the harassment. These victims reported being harassed by a wide variety of individuals; both within the company and non-employees who visit the workplace. Reportedly, 28% of the victims were harassed by their bosses. While the majority of harassers were coworkers (60%), management and supervisors also ranked pretty high.

Why are harassment victims staying silent?

It is incredible to think that nearly 75% of sexual harassment victims in the workplace do not report the harassment. Of those who did report the harassment, most reported it to the harasser’s supervisor or upper management. Only a few reported it to Human Resources and even fewer reported it to the company’s legal department. So, why are so few people complaining about the harassment they suffer in the workplace?

There are a variety of reasons that harassment is not reported in the workplace. The most common reason is that they did not want to be labeled a troublemaker. Nearly half as many chose not to report the harassment for fear of retaliation and losing their jobs. Others were discouraged because they knew it would come down to their word against the harasser’s word.

Employees need to know that reporting is the right thing to do

The statistics show that of the employees who did report being harassed, 76% also reported that the issue was resolved by their employer. A significant number also reported that the accused harasser stopped the harassing conduct after it was reported, and several others reported the harasser was actually terminated. Based on these statistics, employees should be reassured that reporting harassment is the best course of action. Employment anti-discrimination and antiretaliation laws protect employees from being treated adversely for exercising their rights.

If you feel that you have experienced discrimination or harassment at work and you decide to make a complaint about it to your employer, you are likely concerned about the risk of retaliation. Understanding what constitutes unlawful retaliation is important but having some idea of what to do after you file your complaint is equally important. If you follow these tips you will put yourself in a better position to handle any retaliatory actions your employer may take.

What it means to suffer unlawful retaliation

When you bring a claim of unlawful retaliation to court, there are several facts that must be proven before you can recover. First, you must establish that you engaged in protected activity such as making a complaint of employment discrimination or harassment. You must also show that you suffered an adverse employment action and that the adverse action was causally related to your protected activity. For example, if you complain to Human Resources that you were sexually harassed by a supervisor and then you were demoted by the same supervisor a week after he found out about your complaint, then there may be a basis for a retaliation claim.

If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Wrady & Michel, LLC. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you!