Why Does Workplace Sexual Harassment Often Go Unreported?

One U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) study found that 90 percent of individuals who say they have experienced harassment will never take formal action. Sadly, their lack of action allows offenders and abusers to get away with these behaviors without facing fair consequences. Not only does the lack of reporting enable the cycle to continue, but it also invalidates harassment’s impact on employees. Moreover, the EEOC suspects underreporting is even direr than studies reveal, claiming that 94 percent of workers don’t report workplace harassment or discrimination.

Reasons Why Discrimination Is Not Reported

California employees have rights and protections in place to keep them from being mistreated at work. Furthermore, the laws encourage anyone who is subjected to misconduct such as sexual harassment to report it. If reporting it doesn’t stop the mistreatment or harassment, employees have the right to take legal action. Unfortunately, reporting sexual harassment and pursuing legal rights is usually much easier said than done. In reality, in California and across the country, many occurrences of sexual harassment go unreported for several reasons.


Workplace sexual harassment victims are sometimes afraid of the repercussions that they might face if they make a report. Even though there are state and federal laws prohibiting retaliation, victims may still feel that their job isn’t safe or that others will view them differently for reporting sexual harassment.

Unsure If They Experienced Harassment

Others experiencing sexual harassment may not be entirely confident that the treatment they are subjected to is actually sexual harassment. Victims might think they are misinterpreting something or making it up in their heads. It’s difficult because, in theory, it can be easy to identify sexual harassment. Still, in reality, a lot of gray areas and blurry boundary lines exist. It can be difficult for someone experiencing harassment to really know that they are.


Many sexual harassment victims are understandably embarrassed. Reporting this type of conduct can make even the most outgoing or confident individuals feel self-conscious or awkward, especially when explaining the situation to a workplace human resources representative, who might be a complete stranger.

Avoidance Is Easier

Still, other sexual harassment victims might feel like they can just avoid the harasser’s behaviors. For example, it might seem easier to simply avoid a harasser or ignore their misconduct than to lodge a complaint formally. However, in most instances, ignoring it won’t make the harasser stop.

Report Your Harassment

If you haven’t reported workplace sexual harassment that you’ve experienced, don’t give up or falsely believe that you are fighting a battle you won’t win or that isn’t worth it. Sexual harassment on the job is serious, and you have rights in the workplace as an employee.

It’s often uncomfortable and intimidating to stand up for yourself against this type of inappropriate treatment. However, by holding the people who violated your rights accountable and securing the legal help you deserve, you are not only protecting yourself; but also others who are also enduring the same misconduct. You don’t have to go through this experience by yourself. Instead, call an experienced workplace sexual harassment attorney who can defend you and stand up to the people who have mistreated you.

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