3 reasons sexual harassment cases in the workplace go unreported

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination |

Unfortunately, many employees are sexually harassed by managers, colleagues and customers – but a high number of such cases go unreported. 6,201 charges alleging sexual harassment were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2022, but that may only be a fraction of the number of incidents out there.

Why the disparity? Here are three reasons sexual harassment in the workplace is underreported:

1. Fear of retaliation

Some employees avoid reporting sexual harassment because they believe they may be retaliated against, especially if the offender is their boss. They don’t want to be denied opportunities, transferred to an unfavorable location, moved into a different department or dismissed. 

Retaliation is prohibited by law. If your employer has treated you unfairly after reporting a sexual harassment case, you can take action against them.

2. Lack of surety

Sexual harassment can be subtle. Thus, it can be challenging for an employee to determine when they have been sexually harassed, especially if the action in question is deemed normal. For example, a workplace culture that supports sexual jokes or remarks.

If an action or a statement makes you uncomfortable, creating a hostile work environment, you may have experienced sexual harassment, even if other people are unbothered by it.

3. Poor reporting channels

Workplaces without set procedures for reporting sexual harassment contribute to the high percentage of underreporting. Employers should have a clear channel for reporting sexual harassment cases, which, in most cases, is the human resources (HR) department. The department should follow company policies to investigate the matter and employ solutions to protect the victim.

When these are lacking, employees often don’t know where to turn for help, and that can make them afraid to even try.

If you experience sexual harassment at work, it will be best to obtain adequate information about your case to protect your rights. 

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