The truth behind sexual harassment statistics

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and similar state groups reported more than 9,600 workplace sexual harassment complaints. However, that number is 41 percent lower than the more than 16,000 sexual harassment complaints in 1997. While that may sound like a good thing, workers in Tennessee have not likely experienced a 41 percent drop in harassment. Instead, the complaint process is largely being handled behind closed doors.

Employees and managers often have different opinions about the extent to which sexual harassment is not being reported. According to a Society for Human Resource Management report issued in January, roughly 75 percent of employees who were asked said that they didn't report being harassed. However, 57 percent of managers said that only a few cases were not reported. It is also worth pointing out that the reduction in complaints has not been the same throughout the country.

Michigan has seen a 19 percent drop while Maine has had complaints go down by 96 percent in the past 20 years. What constitutes as sexual harassment can also be different as some states have no formal laws against it while others have stricter rules in an effort to combat it. While cases tend to be resolved quietly today, legislation has been proposed that would require companies to disclose sexual harassment complaint rates.

If an individual has been the victim of harassment, it may be possible to file a complaint with the EEOC. Even if an employee is not allowed to file a civil lawsuit, it can still be possible to seek compensation or other relief. Those who are curious about their rights in a sexual harassment case may benefit from consulting with an attorney. He or she may be able to answer a person's questions in a timely manner.

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