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Why many harassment victims don't speak out

Sexual harassment has been covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of since 1986, and it gives important protections to employees in Texas and around the country. According to an EEOC report, roughly 90 percent of employees who have been harassed do not speak out. Common reasons for failing to do so include a fear that reports will not be believed or that those who report harassment will be retaliated against. According to a 2003 report, 75 percent of those who complained about being mistreated at work were retaliated against in some form.

Research has also indicated that employers may not take sexual harassment allegations seriously. The EEOC specifically found that only 8 percent of cases involving unwanted touching were reported. The number is even lower for those who are victims of harassment based on their gender. Changes in how companies view sexual harassment may be helpful in reducing its impact on workers and employers.

Instead of trying to avoid liability, training should be geared toward creating a civil workplace. This may create a culture where people are allowed to express their concerns in a safe, direct and anonymous manner. Training may also be designed to address what bystanders can do if they witness harassment at work. Everyone in the organization should be taught that sexual harassment may be occurring whenever a person feels uncomfortable.

Retaliating against those who report sexual harassment or other violations of employment law may be illegal. Retaliation may include demoting, transferring or terminating an individual for reporting a violation of his or her rights. An attorney may review a case and help a victim obtain compensation and other relief.

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