Black women in Tennessee and elsewhere are more likely to experience sexual harassment in the workplace than white women, according to a new analysis of federal data. The study was published in the journal Gender, Work and Organization.
For the study, researchers examined data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, between the years of 1997 and 2016. They found that overall workplace sexual harassment complaints have decreased over the last 20 years, but they have not gone down as much for black women. Instead, white women, particularly young white women, have been the primary beneficiaries of the efforts to reduce sexual harassment. Meanwhile, the study also found that sexual harassment complaints tend to increase when unemployment rates go up. According to the authors of the study, this is because men are more likely to commit acts of sexual harassment when they feel economically threatened.
Employment experts say that it is essential for companies to provide sexual harassment training for their employees, particularly front-line managers and supervisors, who are historically involved in a significant portion of sexual harassment complaints. In fact, some states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine and New York, have passed mandatory sexual harassment training laws. In addition to proper training, experts say that businesses need to ensure they have a strong sexual harassment reporting system in place.
Sexual harassment can take many forms, including lewd comments, offensive emails, inappropriate touching and requests for sexual favors. Victims of harassment may obtain relief by speaking to an employment attorney about their case. The attorney might evaluate the situation and explain how to properly document incidents of harassment. This evidence may then be used to file a complaint with the EEOC or a state agency. If the complaint is successful, the victim might be awarded compensation for damages such as back pay, lost benefits and mental distress.