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One in Three Women Say They Were Sexually Harassed at Work, But Most Don’t Report It—Why?

October 31, 2017 Sexual Harassment

What all victims of sexual harassment should know about their legal rights

Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes.

These are just the latest high-profile men to be outed as alleged serial sexual harassers. Many are saying that Hollywood has a sexual harassment problem. That may be true, but it raises a larger issue: does every industry have a sexual harassment problem?

According to a 2015 survey by Cosmopolitan magazine, one in three women between the ages of 18 and 34 claimed to have been sexually harassed at work. Of those, only 29% said that they reported the incident(s).

Why did the other 71% not report?

Let’s take a closer look at why victims often don’t report sexual harassment, and then discuss what every victim of sexual harassment should know about his or her rights.

Unintended Consequences

According to an article the New York Times article earlier this year, both male and female harassment victims often remain silent over fear of retaliation.

Unfortunately, those fears are not unfounded. The Times article cited a study of public-sector employees who reported sexual harassment. Two-thirds of the participants reported experiencing some sort of retaliation after their complaints.

According to the article, victims are even less likely to report harassment if the harasser has a reputation for inappropriate conduct. Reason: The victim may have the idea that if the person has been getting away with it for so long, the company must be OK with it.

Unfortunately, many companies have policies that are structured to protect the business from liability, rather than provide genuine help for someone who has been harassed. In addition, employers may be reluctant to investigate and/or punish a high performer or a member of the top brass.

Your Legal Rights

If you’ve been subjected to sexual harassment at work, it’s important to know that federal law, as well as some state and municipal laws, provide protection from retaliation after your complaint.

What is retaliation? In general, it could be any number of things that negatively change the terms and conditions of your employment. That might include:

  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Schedule changes to less-desirable shifts
  • Transfers to undesirable job locations
  • Being subjected to additional scrutiny
  • Being subjected to verbal or physical abuse, or
  • Being set up to fail in some way.

Call Us For a Free Consultation 

Speaking to an experienced employment law attorney can help alleviate some of significant stress you’ve probably been facing after a harassment incident. Remember, the law is one your side and you don’t have to through this alone.

Email us at or call (267) 273-1054 for a free consultation.