Businesses mostly unaware of the extent of sexual harassment

A survey of 1,000 working adults conducted by a public relations company identified disparate views between executives and rank-and-file employees on the subject of sexual harassment. According to the research, companies in Tennessee likely have little awareness at the management level of sexual harassment. The survey indicated that almost 70 percent of business leaders "strongly agreed" that their organizations did not tolerate sexual harassment, but only a minority of workers agreed with that belief.

A full 25 percent of surveyed workers said that they had witnessed sexual harassment or heard about it happening at their workplaces within the past year. Although executives maintain that they are satisfied with the anti-harassment policies, one-third of workers responded that harassment happens all of the time across corporate America. Complaints in this category to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission went up 12 percent during the last year.

Most people attribute management's blindness to the issue to the small number of harassment complaints that reach supervisors or managers. Data collected by FairyGodBoss show that 63 percent of women never filed complaints to managers, human resources or police. Their reluctance to report arises from the possibility of retaliation at work or being dismissed as a liar. The majority of workers expect human resources to protect the company and never defend workers from illegal conduct.

A person targeted at work with unwanted sexual advances, offensive jokes or sex discrimination might wish to discuss the problem privately with an attorney. Legal counsel could confirm that behavior fits the definition of sexual harassment. If it does, an attorney might secure a settlement through negotiations with the employer, but litigation could occur if an employer resists responsibility for damaging the person's well-being and career.

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