If you have suffered sexual harassment at work but have been too afraid to report it, you are not alone.
In 2018, Insider Intelligence conducted a study into sexual harassment in the workplace. It found that only 0.2% of incidents are ever reported. That suggests that employers still have a long way to go to stamp out sexual harassment on their premises.
Employers do not make reporting sexual-harassment easy
These are some of the reasons the study found to explain why people did not report the vast majority of incidents:
- Fear of losing their job: 68% of cases reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC ) also filed charges against their employer for retaliation. Some lost their jobs. Others felt their employer denied them opportunities such as promotions or began to treat them differently.
- Fear of it coming to nothing: Standing up and saying someone sexually harassed you takes a lot of courage. The study found the EEOC only pursued 12% of cases. They turned the rest away on administrative grounds. Many harassed workers may decide it is simpler to stay quiet.
- Fear of retaliation by the abuser: It can be hard to predict how your abuser will react to the news you reported to them. They may become vindictive or try to tarnish your good name. They might try to turn your colleagues against you.
Reporting sexual harassment can be a traumatic experience. Yet if you do not, then it may continue. It may also permit the harasser to treat other colleagues in the same way.
You have rights that can help you when you’re sexually harassed at work
The law entitles you to a workplace free of harassment. It protects your right to report it without fear of retaliation. If your employer is not upholding your rights, seek help to hold them to account.