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Sexual harassment in the workplace is still an issue

California employees who have been subjected to sexual innuendos or other behaviors that fall under the criteria of being considered sexual harassment might feel as if they are alone in what they are dealing with. However, some might have been heartened by a recent story involving a former anchor for Fox News and the subsequent punishments administered to her former boss who was accused of the harassment. This story coming to light is an indicator that there is still a problem with sexual harassment at work. Those who feel victimized need to understand that they have rights.

According to research, one out of every four women state that they have been subjected to harassment at work. Many have resisted seeking compensation for a variety of reasons, and it is believed that even more have been victimized but have not spoken up. Fear is a common reason that is presented for this trepidation at reporting what is happening. If a victim of harassment is frightened of the consequences or believes that she will not be helped or believed, she is less likely to complain. In fact, it is believed that employers' steps taken to stop sexual harassment are actually an impediment to women filing a complaint. Employers have put policies in place to prevent sexual harassment, but these policies are designed in a way that they protect the employer from facing liability if the employee does not adhere to the required steps when complaining.

Programs that employers have are often not sufficient to end and discourage the harassment. It is believed that some methods employers use are only there to comply with regulations, and not to alleviate employee concerns. A vast percentage of training regarding sexual harassment are Internet-based, diminishing their effectiveness.

The issue is still prominent in large part because many employers do not grasp that harassment is not limited to simply making sexual comments, but also includes showing explicit material or subjecting a fellow employee to it. Letting the employer or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission know what is happening can be a method to deal with the behavior, but an employee who is being subjected to harassment at work should also think about discussing the matter with an experienced legal professional who is aware of all the various legal protections an employee has and can help with filing a lawsuit if necessary.

Source: USA Today, "Sexual harassment still a reality in the workplace," Charisse Jones, July 7, 2016