Despite all the increased awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace in recent years and all the pledges by lawmakers and businesses to eradicate it, the problem continues. So does the retaliation that some employees face when they take the brave step of reporting it –- something they’ve been encouraged to do by movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp.
In fact, it was a recent study by the National Women’s Law Center using data from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund that has brought some troubling statistics to light. The NWLC studied over 3,300 requests from Jan. 2018 through April 2020 for legal assistance related to sexual harassment and retaliation.
The study showed that retaliation is pervasive – and takes many forms, Over 70% of the employees who reported their harassment said that they experienced retaliation -– an amount the defense fund’s manager called “shocking.” This included things like losing shifts, negative performance evaluations, being treated badly and being fired. In fact. 36% reported that they lost their jobs.
In some cases, finding another job within the same industry can be difficult if it’s discovered that someone complained about sexual harassment. In times of economic insecurity, that can be an even greater burden on victims.
In over half of the cases studied, the victim reported that their harasser was their supervisor or their superior in their organization. Some 37% reported that their harasser faced no consequences for their actions. Nearly 30% said that nothing at all was done to curtail their harassment.
Harassment comes in many forms
In many cases, people reported that they had been subjected to other forms of harassment in addition to the sexual kind -– like harassment based on their race, for example. It’s not surprising that those who sought help from the legal defense fund reported that the harassment had impacted not only their economic well-being but their mental and physical health.
However, Times Up officials were able to find inspiration amid these disturbing findings. One said that they “reveal the courage it takes for people to come forward and report the harassment and abuse they’re experiencing in the workplace.” Another said, “While it’s outrageous that sexual harassment and assault at work remain so prevalent, it’s inspiring to see so many survivors rise up to fight back,”
Fighting back against all forms of workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation is essential if we’re going to curb it. An experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance and support as you take this step.