Workers prioritize jobs over filing sexual harassment suits

Despite discrimination laws prohibiting workplace sexual harassment, it remains a widespread problem in Maryland and across the country. The employment and education vice president at the National Women’s Law Center testified in January to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that a majority of such cases are never reported because the victims are more worried about possible retaliation or losing their jobs if they file complaints.

One out of every four female workers is a sexual harassment victim, and the problem is pervasive in a range of jobs, o ften within male-dominated industries. One workplace discrimination attorney says that many employees are afraid of reprisal if they complain, such as whether they could find another job, particularly if their jobs are in certain industries.

Another employment attorney notes that the best sexual harassment cases are those with enough evidence, facts and histories of previous harassment, and the companies and victims often settle without going to court. While the best cases do not always go to court, some of the most egregious ones are usually settled. Observers also say that female executives or workers in upper management positions are less likely to file sexual harassment suits because they do not want attorneys and juries to put their lives under the microscope.

In many situations, the companies fail to communicate and enforce their sexual harassment policies, says the CEO of a workplace training firm. Attorneys advise that managers who seek to improve hostile workplace environments could make a difference in their employees’ behavior.

While more people seem to talk about women being sexually harassed on the job, men are victims as well. No matter the gender, an employee has the right to a working atmosphere that is free from sexual innuendo and harassment.

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