If There is Sexual Harassment, There is Also Retaliation - American Society of Employers - Anthony Kaylin

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If There is Sexual Harassment, There is Also Retaliation

workplace harassmentIn a recent survey by Time’s Up and the National Women’s Law Center, seven in 10 people (72%) who report sexual harassment faced some form of retaliation, including termination, lawsuits for defamation, and denied promotions.  The report is based on 3,317 requests for legal help submitted to Time's Up between January 1, 2018, and April 30, 2020.  In addition, one-third of workers (36%) said they experienced physical harassment, sexual assault, or rape. About 1 in 5 (18%) said they were subjected to multiple forms of harassment including sex, race, and disability. 

Retaliation is real.   Over a third (36%) of those experiencing retaliation said they were fired, and nearly 1 in 5 (19%) said they received bad performance evaluations or were scrutinized in the workplace.  More than one in seven people (15%) were threatened with legal action, job loss, or physical harm if they revealed their harassment. At least 1 in 5 (22%) said harassment hurt their economic well-being. Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) said the harassment damaged their long-term mental health. 

Over half of the workers (56%) who identified their harasser indicated the perpetrator was their supervisor.  And surprisingly, nearly 2 in 5 (37%) said there were no consequences for their harasser.   Nearly 1 in 9 (11%) said they reported the harassment to police. 

“The findings reveal the courage it takes for people to come forward and report the harassment and abuse they’re experiencing in the workplace,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center and a co-founder of the Time's Up fund, in a statement. “Repeatedly, survivors endured abuse and once they rebuffed advances or reported it, many were fired, careers were destroyed, some became homeless – and too often, harassers got promotions.

Another study shows mixed messaging when it comes to harassment in the workplace.  An i-Sight study found that 81% of respondents believe that harassment in the workplace occurs, but 90% stated that it doesn’t occur in their workplace.  According to the study, 54% of women have experienced unwanted sexual advances.  30% stated that it involved a man at work, and 23% said that it involved a superior of theirs.

Further, it was found that only 1 of 5 employers make a conscious effort to discuss appropriate conduct, hold training, or change sexual harassment policies in the face of the #metoo movements.  There is a question of whether training is appropriate if it is concerning more how to avoid liability then appropriate conduct at work. 

The EEOC averages about 12,000-13,000 sexual harassment charges per year, although the EEOC does not track retaliation arising from other charges.  Therefore, it could be argued that more complaints may be resolved by the employer but that employees are afraid to file with the employer or the EEOC.

States are working to discourage employers from covering up bad acts.  Almost one third of states have laws that prevent employers from insisting upon nondisclosure agreements for out-of-court settlements in cases involving sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

When there are court cases, retaliation is generally a charge against the employer.  And even if the employer wins the harassment case, they can be more likely to lose on the retaliation case. 

Employers should plan now for 2021 activities that will lead to a more respectful workplace reducing the likelihood of harassment in the workplace.  Don’t think that remote work lessens the likelihood of harassment.   Leadership should be trained to promote a respectful workplace.  Training, town halls, and manager meetings with employees (that are likely scripted by HR) should be reviewed.  It has been proven time over time that a harmonious workforce is a highly productive workforce.

 

Source:  Kennedy Kennedy & Ives 9/10/20, USA Today 10/15/20

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