The actresses who have publicly addressed allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein have revived a national conversation about the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. Many women have shared their own stories of harassment in day to day life on social media, putting the issue in a new perspective for friends and family. It has been more than 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed sexual harassment as a form of discrimination. Yet, it continues to be a huge problem.
Here are four facts to highlight the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace:
- Using conservative estimates, at least one in four women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. In 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a study of sexual harassment that found "anywhere from 25 percent to 85 percent of women reported having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace." At the low end, that would mean one in four women. At the end high end, it is many more.
- When harassment victims spoke up, 75 percent experienced retaliation. And that's illegal, too. The law prohibits retaliation against a person for reporting or making a complaint about employment practices that discriminate based on sex.
- Sexual harassment is often brushed off. In the EEOC survey, reports of incidents grew when the specific acts that count as harassment were clear in the question.
- Reducing sexual harassment in the workplace is everyone's responsibility. While companies have conducted prevention and reporting training for employees regarding sexual harassment for the last few decades, it is often not taken seriously. What can make a difference is someone speaking up when harassment occurs. Employees who speak up are part of the solution to preventing sexual harassment.
Only when more employees speak up to call out wrongdoing will a change begin to happen. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment at work or have witnessed it in your office, speaking with a qualified attorney could make a difference and provide you with legal guidance.