Why most cases of workplace sexual harassment go unreported

On Behalf of | Oct 23, 2023 | Employee Rights

Unfortunately, some people are sexually harassed in the workplace – a place where they should feel safe to practice their skills. But only a few report their experience. Workplace sexual harassment remains underreported in the state and nationally.

This guide discusses why many cases go unreported

Threat of retaliation

In many cases, the perpetrator of sexual harassment at work is usually someone in authority – they have power over the victim. This may be the employer, supervisor or manager. They can threaten to retaliate against an employee (fire or demote the employee or transfer them to an unfavorable location) if they report. 

The fear of experiencing these threats contributes to many workplace sexual harassment cases going unreported. 

Retaliation is unlawful. An employee can take legal action against an employer who retaliates against them after reporting sexual harassment.

Fear of being treated differently

Some employees believe that if they report sexual harassment, their colleagues may treat them differently. Perhaps they fear their colleagues may ostracize them, especially in cases involving threats of retaliation, or may not be free to discuss certain matters around them.

How people treat an employee may slightly change after reporting sexual harassment, as they may be trying to be more sensitive. Besides, some people in the office can be more supportive than expected.

Fear of embarrassment

Sexual harassment can result in shame, which can intensify in the workplace. And reporting can make one feel powerless or invaded especially during investigations.  

Reporting sexual harassment takes courage – one takes their power back. Additionally, most cases are handled privately.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can negatively impact one’s career. If you believe you have experienced it, get legal help to understand your options, and, in turn, protect your rights.     



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