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Why do those experiencing harassment often fear reporting this issue?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Sexual Harassment

Workplace harassment can occur due to many different reasons and may take on different forms. Some people face harassment based on their age or race, while others experience sexual harassment in the workplace.

A company’s inability or unwillingness to protect someone from harassment could constitute discrimination. Some workers have a hard time understanding when what they experience actually constitutes harassment. Even those who know that the conduct of their coworkers violates the law and their employment rights may feel frightened about the prospect of reporting the matter. Although people may know their rights, their need for ongoing income might convince them that they have to endure harassment in the workplace.

They worry about the possibility of retaliation

Just as the law requires that employers maintain discrimination-free workplaces, it also prohibits retaliation. Even if the person harassing a worker is a supervisor or the top salesperson at the company, the organization should respond appropriately to complaints about harassment and discrimination on the job. Unfortunately, quite a few businesses do not properly investigate complaints of harassment or act to protect employees experiencing harassment. Instead, they find excuses to punish the worker who reported the issue.

Employer retaliation is one of the most common sources of discrimination lawsuits in the United States. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) notes that, according to a review of complaints, retaliation is a common source of litigation. In the years reviewed, between two-fifths and just under half of the reported discrimination lawsuits filed against employers involved claims of retaliation.

It is, therefore, reasonable for workers to fear retaliation when attempting to fight harassment and discrimination. Thankfully, there are some common steps employees can take to protect themselves. These steps include reviewing company policy carefully, documenting the harassment they experienced and keeping a record of their communication with the company. An individual’s records about what has transpired during their employment could help them prove that the company did not take the appropriate steps to address the harassment that they endured and instead penalized them for speaking up on their own behalf.

Workers should not have to endure harassment nor accept the consequences of employer retaliation after reporting harassment on the job. Professionals who know their rights and can identify coworker and company misconduct are often in a better position to mitigate the consequences of retaliation and harassment.