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Is Sexual Harassment a Silent Epidemic in the Workplace?

Is Sexual Harassment a Silent Epidemic in the Workplace?

New article claims most women don’t report inappropriate behavior

Do most incidents of sexual harassment at work go unreported?

According to a recent article in The New York Times, many victims of sexual harassment don’t speak up about inappropriate conduct on the job. There are multiple reasons that people might remain silent, but most of them have one common denominator: fear.

Victims of sexual harassment may be afraid of:

  • Being retaliated against
  • Being labeled a whiner
  • Facing off against another employee who is powerful or popular
  • Not being believed

However, it’s important to know that there’s legal protection from harassment. In addition, federal law also offers protection from retaliation after a person has made a sexual harassment complaint.

Let’s talk about what you should know if you’ve been sexually harassed on the job.

Who is protected from sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment may encompass a wide variety of scenarios.

The first thing to know is that sexual harassment of either employees or job applicants is illegal under federal law, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

It’s also important to know that victims of sexual harassment may be male or female. The harasser and victim may be of the opposite sex or of the same sex.

How sexual harassment looks

Sometimes sexual harassment is obvious, and sometimes it’s not.

Inappropriate touching, lewd or graphic comments, or invitations to perform sexual acts are pretty blatant examples of harassment. Victims of this kind of harassment often decide to look for other employment rather than speak up. Of course, plenty of people just resolve to put up with the behavior because they need their jobs.

The more-subtle forms of harassment may be harder to pinpoint. That is, the actions may not be direct come-ons, but may still be enough to make the victim feel uncomfortable.

Subtle forms of harassment may involve someone continually discussing his or her sexual exploits, showing a coworker suggestive or pornographic images, or trying to engage the victim in conversations about sex or anatomy.

Disparaging comments about a specific gender also fall under the sexual-harassment umbrella. For example, comments such as “All women should be barefoot and pregnant” may be considered to be harassment under certain circumstances.

Contact us now

Remember, you have the right to be free of sexual harassment in the workplace. If you’ve been sexually harassed on the job, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney about your rights.

Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.

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