With the vast number of sexual misconduct reveals and associated news stories in 2017 and the increasingly powerful #MeToo movement, sexual harassment is getting a lot of attention. A recent New York Times survey of 615 men found that close to 33% of these full-time workers have engaged in improper conduct in the workplace. Around 10% of the survey participants even admitted that their harassing behavior included unwelcome physical contact.
As for the victims, in a 2016 EEOC study of workplace harassment, close to half of the female workers reviewed described dealing with sexual harassment at least once over the course of their careers. With the revelations made by actors James Van Der Beek and Terry Crews, more men are speaking out as victims of this behavior, too. Clearly, workplace sexual harassment is a prevalent problem for both genders, throughout all industries and professions.
How Sexual Harassment Impacts Victims
While it’s heartening to see this issue receive more attention, it’s not the full story. As a matter of fact, much of the focus is unfairly devoted to the perpetrators. Big names, famous entertainers, and powerful congressmen are grabbing the spotlight. What’s often overlooked is how their actions have impacted the employees they have harassed.
Financial / Professional
The effect on a victim’s career and finances is usually an obvious byproduct of sexual harassment – especially in the case of quid pro quo harassment and sexual advances from a superior. Failure to comply results in lost career opportunities, chances at advancement and training, and even loss of employment. For other forms of sexual harassment, the impact on the victim causes higher absenteeism, poor focus, lowered engagement at work, and other detrimental career effects. Many change career paths altogether. The resulting impact on finances and professional opportunities is clear.
Emotional / Personal
Dealing with this uncomfortable behavior at work takes an emotional toll. Enduring this unwanted attention is stressful, frustrating, demeaning, and embarrassing. It makes the workplace an unwelcoming place and incites dread at the prospect of going in every day. Understandably, these emotions spill over into the private lives of these employees. This can decrease the enjoyment previously found in recreational activities and may impact personal relationships with partners, children, and other family members. Sadly, an untenable workplace problem grows to affect all facets of the victim’s life.
Psychological / Physical
Ongoing sexual harassment and performing in a hostile work environment over time has several long-term consequences for the victim’s physical and psychological health. The two are intertwined. Anxiety, stress, lowered self-esteem, and clinical depression are common results of sexual harassment. These types of psychological issues have many physical effects – panic attacks, poor sleeping habits, loss of appetite, weight issues, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. Dealing with these issues long-term can cause other dangerous physical health conditions, such as high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances and metabolic issues, and a compromised immune system.
Sexual harassment victimizes many people. The personal trauma that its direct victims endure has far-reaching ramifications on society. Work productivity and business success is detrimentally impacted by the ensuing absenteeism, low morale, employee turnover, and associated legal costs. This puts a strain on the economy and on the livelihood of fellow workers, as well.
If you are the victim of any form of sexual harassment, there’s help available. Don’t suffer in silence. Our knowledgeable NJ Sexual Harassment attorneys are a powerful force to have on your side. We will fight tirelessly for your rights. Contact our office to schedule a consultation to review your options.