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Workplace sexual violence remains underreported

No reliable statistics exist regarding sexual violence in the workplace, making it hard to address. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 43,000 rapes and sexual assaults occur in workplaces every year. However, New Jersey workers might be shocked that advocates against sexual harassment say this number is too low because many victims are too discouraged or scared to report the incidents.

Employment laws provide protections for workers, including those who are undocumented. Many employees do not know about these protections, and outreach programs are leading to an increase in sexual harassment filings. The EEOC has noted that about 17 percent of the complaints filed with the agency involve men.

One reason why victories over workplace sexual abuse cases are not too hard to achieve is because the perpetrators almost always target more than one victim. The victims may not know each other, but they tell the agency the same story.

This was what happened in a case that involved Vail Run Resort in Colorado. One of the victims, a housekeeper, complained to higher management that her supervisor tried to rape her on multiple occasions. However, the resort management ignored her. In February, the resort made an agreement with the EEOC to pay more than $1 million, to be monitored for five years and to provide extensive sexual harassment training for its managers. The attacker was convicted of unlawful sexual contact and extortion in a separate criminal case.

When workers become the victims of sexual harassment, it may be in their best interest to file formal complaints with the EEOC if their superiors do not address the issue. Since it could be discouraging and scary to do this alone, they might speak with employment law attorneys first.

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