Five Reasons Employees Do Not Report Workplace Harassment
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC’s) website, more than 20,000 people filed harassment allegations, including more than 11,000 sexual harassment allegations, in 2020 with the EEOC. This does not include charges filed with state or local Fair Employment Practices Agencies. Unfortunately, as much as these numbers seem huge, the reality is that most workplace harassment cases go unreported. Therefore, these numbers do not represent the number of workplace harassment cases that occur yearly. Workplace harassment is more pervasive than the statistics show.
Below is a look at some of the top reasons employees do not report workplace harassment.
Lack of Knowledge
An employee may not be sure if what they experienced is considered harassment. Such an employee may not feel they have the right to report. For instance, not all employees understand what constitutes sexual harassment. According to the EEOC, any verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, requests for sexual favors, and unwelcome sexual advances are all forms of sexual harassment. Below are some examples of conduct (verbal and physical conduct) that may constitute sexual harassment;
- Sexual jokes, epithets, derogatory comments, or slurs
- Sexually-charged language
- Cornering or impeding movement
- Comments and/or questions about an employee’s sex life
- Comments about an employee’s appearance or body parts
- Physical touching
- Repeated, unwelcome requests for dates
Fear of Retaliation
Some employees fail to report harassment because they fear that an employer will punish them. If fear of retaliation is keeping you from reporting a harassment case, you should know that if your employer retaliates against you for reporting harassment, you have the right to file a lawsuit against them and recover compensation for damages suffered.
Unclear Escalation Paths
Sometimes, it is not clear to employees to whom they should report a case of harassment. If, for example, an employee is sexually harassed by their boss, they may not know who to turn to. It is a requirement for employers to provide their employees with a reporting procedure. Employers need to let employees know who they can turn to when harassed at work and how they can report.
Fear of Becoming the ‘Office Snitch’
Some employees fail to report workplace harassment because they believe that making such reports is ‘snitching.’ Such employees fail to report harassment because they do not want to look petty or judgmental. Employees need to reframe their thinking. Reporting workplace harassment is not ‘snitching.’ When you report harassment, you do so to look out for your safety and that of others. Also, reporting harassment involves speaking up because of a wrong act and not speaking up because you want to get someone in trouble, which is the case with snitching.
An employee who has been harassed may feel there is something they could or should have done to stop the harassment. This feeling of guilt can keep an employee from speaking up and reporting harassment, even if there is no reason for them to feel guilty.
Contact Our Office for a Free Case Evaluation
If you are a victim of workplace harassment, do not hesitate to contact the Trabosh Law Firm for a free case evaluation. We are are dedicated to protecting Your rights.