Why Are Sexual Harassment Victims Afraid to Report Harassment?

New York City Lawyers Fighting for Victims of Workplace Misconduct

Workplace sexual harassment can include a wide range of behaviors, including inappropriate touching, sexual jokes, the posting of graphic images, lewd comments, indecent exposure, rape, groping, sexually charged emails, being offered employment benefits for sexual favors, or being denied a promotion because you refused to have sex. The harassment usually occurs in the workplace, but it can also occur at a holiday party or an employee bonding activity. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment attorneys have experience handling these claims and realize that many victims may be too afraid or ashamed to report their harassment. We are dedicated to helping all victims of workplace harassment fight for justice. Following are Frequently Asked Questions about why some sexual harassment victims are afraid to report harassment in New York City.

Why Are Sexual Harassment Victims Afraid to Report Harassment?

Many people feel shame about the sexual harassment that they experience on the job. Abuse experienced at work is both humiliating and dehumanizing. Typically, the victim feels invaded and powerless. When the harassment comes from someone who has more power, such as a supervisor or a popular coworker, the victim may be especially fearful. Quite often, they may blame themselves for the perpetrator's misdeeds.

Abusive people may benefit from a victim's silence about sexual harassment. A victim of harassment may believe that they were the only victim and not realize that the problem is with the perpetrator, rather than them. In addition, people victimized in the workplace may worry that they will not be believed or that their employer will take action against them rather than against the perpetrator. Often, victims are aware of the myths that women make up stories about sexual harassment for revenge or attention, and they are worried about being perceived in a negative light, particularly in the workplace.

Do I Have Any Remedy Against Retaliation?

Yes. While it is normal to be afraid of reporting harassment to your employer, you should be aware that federal, state, and local laws prohibit retaliation. Reporting harassment to your employer or to the EEOC, as well as filing a sexual harassment lawsuit, are protected activities under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

An adverse employment decision is retaliatory if it is an action that would cause a reasonable person in the same situation to be deterred from filing a complaint. Retaliation can include any negative action, including termination, shift reassignment, salary reduction, or discipline that was taken because you engaged in a protected activity.

Your employer is not supposed to take an adverse employment action against you as a reprisal for reporting harassment by a coworker, client, customer, or supervisor. You should report sexual harassment as long as you have a good-faith belief that you were harassed. Under anti-discrimination laws, you are usually protected against retaliation even if a court decides that what you experienced is not actionable, as long as you reported the harassment in good faith.

For example, perhaps your coworker has made a series of suggestive remarks to you. You report these remarks to HR, but HR decides that you are not a team player or that you are out to make trouble and demotes you to a less desirable department. The court decides that it was not sexual harassment. Nonetheless, you should be able to recover damages for retaliation because you believed in good faith that you were being harassed, and you were entitled to report the issue to HR without having to face being demoted to a less favorable job position.

What Are Common Emotional Effects Stemming From Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment can have many negative emotional effects that make it difficult for victims of harassment to come forward. These include loss of self-esteem, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal thoughts or behavior, depression, shame, humiliation, and more. As a result, it is important to retain an experienced attorney who understands how these emotions often play out and the kinds of tangible remedies that may be available to address them, such as therapy. You can recover emotional distress damages, among others, for sexual harassment.

Retain an Attorney in New York City to Advocate for Your Rights

It can help to have someone on your side when you are reporting harassment. At Phillips & Associates, we are here to assist you if you are a sexual harassment victim afraid to report harassment in New York City. Our attorneys fight employment discrimination and harassment in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Westchester County, and New Jersey. Contact us at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form.

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