When you read harassment statistics — such as counts of workers who have experienced sexual harassment on the job — you can be sure that the stats themselves are deceptive. They do not paint the true picture.
The issue is that many harassment cases are never reported at all. The ones that do get reported make up just a fraction of the total. It’s much more common than people realize. Why is this?
Workers are afraid they’ll be fired
It is illegal to fire a worker for making a sexual harassment claim, but that doesn’t mean workers aren’t worried about it. They’re not thinking about the intricacies of the law. They’re thinking about how they’re going to pay the mortgage. When push comes to shove, many of them just decide not to risk it and they say nothing.
They don’t know if anyone will believe them
There may not be that much direct evidence of harassment. The incident may not be on video, for instance, and there may not have been any witnesses. They know that the harasser is just going to deny it. They worry that no one is going to believe them, so they don’t see the point in making the report. It just feels like it will make their work life more difficult.
They do not realize it was illegal
There are also cases where workers are harassed and they can tell that something is wrong — the event doesn’t sit right — but they do not know that the behavior was illegal. Maybe they’ve experienced it for so long that they assume that’s just how things are. They may not make an official report because they don’t know that they have the grounds to do so.
Harassment is illegal and you do have options
If you are in this position, please know that sexual harassment is illegal. It’s not something anyone should be subjected to while they’re at work. If this has happened to you, take the time to look into your options.