In recent years, the prevalence of sexual harassment and assaults in the workplace has come to the forefront through movements like #metoo and #timesup. Employees may have expected such attention to reduce the rate of sexual harassment. However, the latest data shows that North Carolina and other states may not be making the progress employees hoped for.
Many people still go to work feeling unsafe and unprotected. In fact, the surprising data reveals that only a fourth of the victims of workplace abuse report their complaints internally. About half that many take legal action against their abusers. Some of the reasons why victims may not report harassment include the following:
- Reporting procedures are complicated, questionable and offer the victim few options for fixing the problem.
- The main purpose of the reporting practice is to protect the company from lawsuits.
- The reporting process has no promise of confidentiality.
- The abuser is a supervisor, who also handles the complaint process.
- Hostile workplace environments offer little chance that someone will deal fairly with the problem or protect the victim from harsh consequences.
The main reason victims give for not reporting their harassers is that they fear retribution. In fact, of all the sexual harassment complaints that reach the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 68% of them also include allegations of retaliatory actions by the victim’s employers, such as demotions, undesirable transfers or termination. In many cases, the hostile environment of a North Carolina workplace does not change until an employee takes aggressive legal action to hold an employer accountable.