When women come forward with accusations of sexual harassment at work, they expose themselves to potential retaliation and scrutiny. There are few instances where they receive justice, making every victory in these cases a significant accomplishment.
But not everyone is confident enough to report the harassment they experience. This highlights the need to create safer workplaces and to encourage more individuals to take a stand against sexual harassment.
Sexual misconduct against women in the workplace
In the United States, the frequency of sexual misconduct is alarmingly high, with an individual facing such an assault every 98 seconds. Focusing on the workplace, a report reveals that a staggering 81% of women have encountered sexual harassment during their professional careers. It’s important to acknowledge that men, too, are victims of this unacceptable behavior, with 20% reporting experiences of sexual harassment.
However, the incidence of such misconduct is significantly more common among women.
Plus, only a few who experienced such harassment reported the incident. This is often due to fear of retaliation, disbelief or further harm. Among those women who do report, many find their complaints ignored and their harassers free from any consequences. This lack of action discourages victims from coming forward, further adding to the problem and cycle of silence.
Adding insult to injury, the effects of sexual harassment on women go beyond their career progress. They may begin to associate their workplace with high levels of stress, making it challenging for them to return to work and function normally.
What to do after experiencing harassment
For those who have experienced sexual harassment at work, there are legal avenues for redress, such as The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). This act prohibits discrimination on several grounds. It also covers complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace. To initiate a complaint, an employee must lodge a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission within 180 days following the alleged harassment incident.
Reporting is challenging but essential
Addressing sexual misconduct is never easy. However, employees should know that they have protection under the PHRA. Under this, employers cannot retaliate against employees who have lodged these types of complaints. This means employees cannot be fired, demoted or otherwise harassed due to reports against their coworkers. So, if sexual harassment occurs, there are available avenues for employees to seek justice. There is hope in reporting, as it can contribute to ending such misconduct.