Although sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace, it is not always uncommon. According to one sociologist, it is estimated that nearly 70 percent of women and 45 percent of men have been subjected to some form of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Earlier this week, our San Diego employment law attorney blog began discussing some of the ways in which an individual's health may be jeopardized after becoming a victim of sexual harassment. Our discussion focused on how victims may be at risk of suffering from severe depression after an event involving an unwanted advance or inappropriate touch in the workplace, but victims of sexual harassment could suffer other mental and physical injuries in addition to depression.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
According to several studies, a victim of sexual harassment may be more at risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A 2009 study reported that military women who experienced sexual harassment were four times more likely to suffer from PTSD than military women who experienced a traumatic event while in combat.
In addition to victims of sexual harassment in the workplace being more at risk of suffering from long-term depression and PTSD, studies have suggested that these victims are also more at risk of attempting to commit suicide.
A psychologist in California commented that a hostile work environment may cause one to become anxious and stressed. When individuals suffer from anxiety and stress, they are more at risk of losing sleep. They may experience nightmares or be unable to fall asleep at night if they continue to worry about the incident or several incidents of sexual harassment.
A study from 2008 suggests that victims of sexual harassment are at a greater risk of suffering from high blood pressure compared to individuals who did not experience any form of sexual harassment.
In a Canadian study that was published this year, it was discovered that sexual harassment was also linked to neck pain. About 4,000 women participated in the study. Those who were victims of sexual harassment were 1.6 times more likely to suffer from neck pain.
Sexual harassment in any workplace is illegal and it can certainly have a negative impact on a victim's mental and physical well-being. For this reason, it is extremely important that employees seek the legal protection of their rights so that they can focus their energy on recovering mentally and physically from such a tragic event.
Source: Fox News, "6 Ways Sexual Harassment Damages Women's Health," Nov. 09, 2011