Should I report sexual harassment?
Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes. While exact figures are hard to quantify, a 2005 U.S. Department of Justice study found that about 60% of sexual assaults go unreported. Workplace sexual harassment is vastly underreported as well. An August 2013 poll by Huffington Post/YouGov found that nearly one-third of all employees (yes, men as well as women) say they have been sexually harassed at work by a boss or co-worker. Yet a full 70% of the victims did not report it. But you should report sexual harassment when you see it, whether it’s happening to you or someone else.
Why don’t employees report sexual harassment?
There are plenty of legitimate reasons why people don’t report being sexually harassed. Victims may feel shame, guilt, or embarrassment. They often blame themselves too. Victims also tend to fear retaliation if they speak up. Though all these feelings are understandable, victims of workplace sexual harassment and sexual assault must report it. Here’s why:
(1) It won’t stop unless you do. Most sexual harassers won’t stop on their own. The behavior may even escalate. What starts with simple comments can turn into touching, and ultimately even rape. Eventually, victims are left with an unacceptable choice – allow the victimization to continue or quit the job.
(2) You might not be the only victim. Many times, sexual harassers will target multiple people over time, moving from one victim to the next. If you don’t report the harassment, the harasser will move on to another victim once you are gone. You don’t want to let someone else become a victim if you can stop it.
(3) The law will protect you if you report it, but only if you report it. Typically, employers are liable for sexual harassment only if they knew or had reason to know about it and failed to stop it. If you fail to report the harassment unreasonably, the employer might be able to avoid liability. Because both Ohio and federal law have strong protections against retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment, reporting it may be the best way to protect yourself and your job.
(4) It may be an important part of your recovery. We aren’t mental health professionals, but we understand the devastating emotional toll sexual harassment can take. While you should consider seeking treatment from a trained mental health professional, standing up for yourself can be an important part of the healing process for some.
Sexual harassment lawyer to protect employees
If you are – or someone you know has been – the victim of workplace sexual harassment or sexual assault, it’s vital that you not become just another statistic. Talk to an experience sexual harassment lawyer and learn how best to protect yourself.