Category: Sexual Harassment

National attention has been directed to problems that have plagued American workplaces for decades: discrimination and harassment. Over the past few years, a record number of victims have stepped forward to shine a light on the epidemic. Sexual harassment has been at the forefront of this movement. In fact, by speaking out, victims have offered a lot of insight into just how pervasive workplace harassment may be. According to one study, it’s estimated that 5 million Americans experience sexual harassment in the workplace every year.

Sexual Harassment and Employee Gender

Female employees are much more likely to experience and report sexual harassment at work. A study by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Employment reviewed more than 46,000 sexual harassment claims.

The study found that female employees filed 81 percent of the sexual harassment claims, even though they only comprised 47 percent of the American workforce. Only 19 percent of the sexual harassment claims were filed by male employees, even though men account for 53 percent of the workforce.

Why do women tend to experience sexual harassment more than men? Many believe that the discrepancy between male and female managers and executives is a huge factor. Generally speaking, more men are in positions of power in the workplace. Without women at the top, rules and conduct are less likely to be women-friendly. The state of Calfornia recently addressed this issue head-on. Beginning in 2019, all publically-held companies with ties to the state must have at least one female board member. The number of women that will be required on the board will increase in the coming years.

However, it’s important to remember that the study simply addresses the number of sexual harassment claims submitted by employees. Male employees may be more likely to hide or repress any harassment that is directed at them by an employer. As a result, men may actually experience sexual harassment in the workplace more than is currently estimated.

Reporting Sexual Harassment Associated With Early Termination and Retaliation

Five million American workers are sexually harassed at work every year. However, the Amherst study estimates that 99.8 percent of these victims do not report the illegal behavior. As a result, only 100,000 employees file a formal sexual harassment complaint. Of those complaints, only about 1.5 percent of those cases actually go to court.

Why do so few employees report sexual harassment? Most fear retaliation or being fired. According to the Amherst study, 68 percent of employees who filed a sexual harassment complaint experienced repercussions at work. It’s also believed that 65 percent of those employees no longer had their job one year after filing the complaint.

Workplace retaliation is illegal in the United States. In California, both federal and state law prohibit employers from punishing an employee for asserting a protected right. Reporting illegal harassment or discrimination of any kind is always a protected right.

Unlawful retaliation can include:

  • Being denied a promotion
  • Termination without cause
  • Exclusion from work activities
  • Demotion
  • Docked pay or decreased salary
  • Adverse or unsafe working conditions
  • Unexpected and unexplained changes in your work schedule, and
  • Continued discrimination and harassment.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove that an employer has engaged in unlawful retaliation. This is probably why so many employees experience negative consequences at work after reporting harassment.

If you think that you are the victim of workplace retaliation, it’s important to document your experiences.  Keep a journal and record anything that could help to prove your allegations. Speak with other employees or former employees who may have experienced the same repercussions. Any evidence can be helpful if you decide to file a formal complaint.


Have you experienced retaliation at work after reporting sexual harassment? Contact our San Jose workplace harassment attorneys to learn about your legal rights. We can help you stop the harassment and recover the compensation you deserve. Call today to schedule your free consultation.