Why is it hard to believe some claims of sexual harassment?

| Feb 22, 2021 | employment law |

One goal of the #metoo movement of several years ago was to bring awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace. Many actresses spoke out against the actions of certain powerful men in Hollywood, hoping to bring a change of culture all over the country. Those in North Carolina who are victims of sexual harassment may not have a platform from which to speak, but they still have a right to be heard. Unfortunately, not everyone who reports sexual harassment in the workplace receives the advocacy they deserve.

In fact, a recent study shows that if a victim of sexual harassment does not have certain characteristics, others are more likely to dismiss the claims or to assume no harm resulted. The prevailing mindset is that only women with the following characteristics are likely to be victims of harassment:

  • Women who are young or look young
  • White women
  • Women who act feminine
  • Women who fit the conventional idea of attractiveness
  • Women who do not project confidence, strength or power
  • Women who seem incompetent

The report suggests that although most would consider certain actions as sexual harassment when committed against a woman who fits the above description, those same people would not see the same actions as sexual harassment when perpetrated against someone outside those norms.

Additionally, participants in the study were less apt to believe the claims of harassment when they came from a man, a minority, a member of the LGBT community, or someone who was not lean and fragile-looking. The tragedy of this is that many victims of sexual harassment may have to fight even harder for the justice they deserve.