Sexual harassment in the workplace is unfortunately still widespread and impacts Americans across gender, sexual orientation, race, disability status, and income, among other factors. Anyone, regardless of gender, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation, can be a harasser or a victim. The harasser and the victim can likewise be of the same gender and sexual orientation.
- Approximately 85% of females have experienced unsolicited sexual-based behaviors in the workplace, including sexual harassment, sexual coercion, and sexual attention.
- 1 in 7 females and 1 in 17 males changed jobs, quit their jobs, or pursued new job assignments due to sexual assault and harassment.
- In California, 36% of females and 28% of males have experienced workplace harassment.
- While workplace sexual harassment is clearly pervasive, approximately 87% to 94% of workers who experienced sexual harassment did not file formal legal complaints. This is unsurprising when you consider that most workers who report being sexually harassed at work are retaliated against, further perpetuating the immensely toxic culture of victim-blaming and fear of reporting.
It’s crucial to note that employers are legally obligated to provide harassment-free workplaces and immediately address workers’ complaints pertaining to alleged sexual harassment. They must likewise take the necessary steps to prevent harassment, such as posting and distributing clear information about discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s also unlawful for employers to retaliate against workers who complain about sexual harassment.
- POCs have an increased risk of experiencing sexual harassment and assault than white people.
- More specifically, black females experience workplace sexual harassment three times more than white females.
- Workers are likewise harassed more when they work in isolation, receive low wages, or are of a vulnerable population due to their English fluency or immigration status.
Never ignore sexual harassment because it might get worse. Speak to your supervisor or another manager if they are not the harassers. You can also relay your concerns to the human resources manager, or if your company has one, the equal employment opportunity officer.
Follow your company’s complaint process. Your employer must investigate your complaints and take effective and prompt action to resolve the situation. But if your employer isn’t responding to your complaints and no actions are being taken to address the situation, you have the right to file a formal claim.
You can direct your sexual harassment claim to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). But you must file your claim within a year of the sexual harassment incident. You can likewise file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the sexual harassment incident.
If you’ve exhausted the administrative remedies afforded by the EEOC or DFEH, then you can bring a sexual harassment lawsuit. There may be other legal options available to you, depending on the specific circumstances of your case, which you can discuss with an experienced sexual harassment lawyer.