A new study looking at a decades-worth of harassment arbitration awards finds that in nearly half of those cases, employers failed to uphold their original punishment against the accused harassers, such as firing.

The study, conducted by the Hofstra Labor & Employment Law Journal, reviewed 60 arbitration cases between 2008 and 2018. Researchers found in 48% of those cases, punishments were not followed and that 28% of those accused were reinstated without consequences.

Many victims continue to work with their harassers

The study’s authors say because employers are not required to fire workers who harass others, many companies escape liability for past harassment and do not fire harassers, leaving them and their victims in the same workplace.

Researchers say some employers are more concerned about being sued for wrongful termination by the accused rather than any legal action taken by the person experiencing the harassment. They say that this can have devastating effects on victims.

How to coexist with your harasser

Many victims say it’s impossible to do their jobs when they are forced to work with someone who has harassed them. Human resources experts say there are steps you can take to move forward, including:

  • Minimize contact: Explore other options within the company that won’t negatively impact your pay, prestige or duties. While that might seem like surrendering, staying in close proximity to your harasser may only hurt you.
  • Build boundaries: If a transfer isn’t an option, make sure your harasser has no supervisory role over you and does not oversee your performance reviews, salary or promotions. Enlist sympathetic coworkers or supervisors to minimize contact with the person.
  • Stay productive: Remain vigilant that you are continuing to meet performance standards, whether they are measured through sales numbers, formal reviews or more.
  • Document everything: Keep a notebook or use your phone to list any interactions with your harasser, or any of their allies, as well as any harm you experience that affects your earning abilities or chances for career advancement.
  • Don’t cross boundaries: While you want justice, don’t violate any company policies or state laws that restrict access to documents or other information. You can record phone conversations without another person’s consent in Wisconsin, but the recordings may be inadmissible in civil court proceedings.

Do not tolerate harassment

While many victims of workplace harassment decide to leave their jobs, their options for compensation and justice are more limited. Many employers are unaware of harassment laws and seek to avoid court battles and work to settle claims. If you are the victim of harassment, an experienced and aggressive employment attorney here in Wisconsin will protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.