November 9th, 2012

It’s hard to imagine how one would react if suddenly a boss or coworker began sexually harassing you in the workplace. The situation is difficult for many victims of sexual harassment, since it can be scary to speak out about such an awful experience. However, most people imagine that they would do something and expect that they would act quickly to try to end the harassing behavior. A recent study found that many people do not react the way they thought they would. In fact, many victims of workplace sexual harassment react slowly if at all, and often bring a complaint or speak out about the behavior much later.

The study authors said that this tendency, shared by many, is also the source of condemnation by coworkers. Since most people believe that they would react differently, faster, more angrily, they don’t empathize with victims who might do nothing at first. This can be incredibly problematic for the victims, who now face scrutiny and judgment from their peers.

It could also have a negative effect when the victim of sexual harassment does report the behavior, since a trial process would likely involve interviewing coworkers or other witnesses to find out the extent of the behavior by the perpetrator. Unsympathetic witnesses could impact their view of the harassment, which could hurt the case of the victim.

Anyone who is the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace deserves to seek justice and be able to go to work without fear of ongoing harassment.

More information about employee rights can be found on our Minnesota employment law site.

Source: Business News, “Why Unreported Sexual Harassment Can Bring Ridicule,” Chad Brooks, Nov. 6, 2012.

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