When the Time’s Up movement started in 2018, it shed public light on what many people in the workforce already knew – sexual harassment is a serious problem in employment in the United States and, for a long time, such harassment was grossly underreported. One study that followed shortly revealed that:
- 81 percent of women stated that they experienced sexual harassment
- 43 percent of men stated that they experienced sexual harassment
Sexual harassment comes in many forms, and the following were reported to have been experienced:
- Verbal harassment = 71 percent of women and 34 percent of men
- Unwelcome sexual touching = 51 percent of women and 17 percent of men
- Cybersexual harassment = 41 percent of women and 22 percent of men
- Being physically followed = 34 percent of women and 12 percent of men
- Unwanted flashing of genitals = 30 percent of women and 12 percent of men
- Sexual assault = 27 percent of women and 7 percent of men
Even with strict laws prohibiting sexual harassment both in and out of the workplace, the problem continues to impact large percentages of the working population.
The Effects of Sexual Harassment
Some harassers and employers that allow harassment might not realize the wide range of effects such conduct can have on victims. Some reported effects include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Changing their regular routine
- Ending communications with coworkers or other relationships
- Filing an official police or HR report
- Seeking a new job assignment or changing jobs altogether
- Stopping other community activities
- Seeking mental health counseling or other medical treatment
Sexual harassment can lead an employee to quit their job or get fired in many situations, and it can be difficult to find new employment where they feel comfortable. In this way, many victims of harassment experience significant income or career opportunity loss.
Laws that Prohibit Sexual Harassment
No laws specifically prevent sexual harassment, however, the law prevents sex discrimination in employment, and harassment is considered to be a form of discrimination. The following laws make such conduct at work unlawful:
- The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which is enforced by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is enforced by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- California criminal laws, which might include indecent exposure, stalking, or sexual assault (for certain situations)
If you believe that you suffered sexual harassment at work, you are not alone. You also do not have to face the aftermath of harassment alone, as you can always seek help from a trusted workplace sexual harassment attorney.
You should not heistate to stand up for your rights in the face of sexual harassment. Doing so can stop the conduct from occurring, provide you with the monetary relief you deserve, as well as hopefully serve to prevent harassment in that particular work environment in the future. It can be difficult to know if you were a victim or what course of action is best to take, and this is when you should schedule a confidential consultation with a sexual harassment lawyer.