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Why does sexual harassment at work go unreported?

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2023 | Employment

Workplaces should be safe and healthy. Unfortunately, this is not the experience of every worker, as some go through sexual harassment, which creates a hostile work environment for them. 

The U.S Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky does not tolerate harassment of any kind. This means that employees are protected. But why do many cases of sexual harassment in the workplace go unreported?

Here is what you need to know.

It can be subtle 

Sexual harassment can be evident or subtle. The former is mostly reported, but subtlety makes some cases go unreported. Employees should report any interaction that makes them uncomfortable. If a colleague’s or senior’s behavior is inappropriate, the chances are sexual harassment occurred.

It can be confusing

Some things may be wrong but can be viewed as acceptable because of the frequency with which they happen. It can be confusing for one to determine if they were harassed when they experience an action that almost everyone in the office is subjected to and seem okay with it. The employee may not know if they should report it or view it as normal as others do.

Fear of retaliation

When an employee is sexually harassed by a senior, they may avoid reporting it because they fear retaliation. They may not want to be demoted, denied opportunities or dismissed. Accordingly, they may fail to report to protect the status quo. 

However, employees are also protected from retaliation. Thus, an employee can sue an employer/senior who retaliates against them.

Being sexually harassed is devastating. It’s crucial to obtain enough information about your case to protect your rights.