There is a danger to keeping harassment cases a secret

The serious matter of sexual harassment in the workplace has made national headline news recently because of allegations within the Fox News organization. A female employee from the network accuses a former chief executive of sexual harassment. And apparently — as well as surprisingly — other women who have worked with the network had similar claims. 

So why are the other claims a surprise? Fox News is a big enterprise. Many women work within the organization. Perhaps Gretchen Carlson, who filed the most recent claim against Roger Ailes, would have spoken out sooner if she had known she wasn’t alone in her alleged experiences of sexual harassment.

The truth is, big companies want to hide the truth when it involves legal disturbances such as sexual harassment. This might not even mean that the business is denying that sexual harassment occurred; instead, the higher-ups and the accuser agree on a settlement. Part of that agreement is the agreement that the accuser won’t share what happened with the public. 

This non-disclosure tendency in these types of harassment cases can make potential future victims believe they are alone in their experience. Therefore, it can be harder than it already is to take action and move forward with a sexual harassment lawsuit. Other reasons why some victims remain silent about their experience are the fear for their career and keeping a job, feeling embarrassed, and concern about being stigmatized as a tattle-tale or even a liar. 

Someone who watched a high-profile, successful and articulate woman like Gretchen Carlson on the news might not believe that she could be a sexual harassment victim. Look at her success. Look at her position as a national voice of the news. She has strong opinions and a podium from which to express them. All kinds of people can become victims of sexual harassment at their place of work. And everyone deserves the legal support to help them defend their rights and dignity.

 

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