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Service members tend not to report incidents of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law. That means that employees who are subjected to sexual harassment should not have to tolerate this kind of behavior on the job.

In order to ensure that employees' rights are protected and to prevent further sexual harassment, it is very important for workers to report every instance of harassment in the workplace. Employers must maintain procedures for dealing with sexual harassment complaints, and employees should never have to endure retaliation for complaining about such behavior.

Unfortunately, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), incidents of sexual harassment are not being routinely reported by members of the U.S. military, even though there are currently more than one million service members.

According to the report, a majority of those service members who experienced sexual harassment in the military never formally reported the incident. In fact, of 82 service members who admitted being sexually harassed in interviews for the GAO, only 4 had made a formal report.

Although the military is not like other employers in several significant ways, sexual harassment is prohibited in all branches of the military. The GAO report, however, questions whether the Pentagon's policies have been enough to protect service members.

The GAO report claims that the Department of Defense has:

  • Failed in preventing its service members from being sexually harassed
  • Failed to provide guidance on how to handle incidents of sexual harassment
  • Failed in its oversight of sexual harassment complaints, leaving many cases unreported

The Pentagon has promised to address the problems the service has with sexual harassment. In an official statement, the department said that changes will be made to prevent sexual harassment in the future.

California residents who have experienced sexual harassment in any workplace should feel confident about reporting it. If you feel that your complaints are not taken seriously, or you believe you have suffered retaliation for making a complaint, you should seek the advice of an experienced employment law attorney who can help you to protect your rights.

Source: The Washington Post, "GAO questions Pentagon's efforts to prevent sex harassment," Joe Davidson, Nov. 1, 2011

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