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Study shows just how destructive sexual harassment can be

Despite all the steps taken in recent years to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and aggressively deal with those who perpetrate it, there’s still too often a price to pay for reporting it. A recently released study by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) looked at the experiences of the 3,300+ people who sought legal assistance from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund between January 2018 and the end of April of this year.

The overarching finding was that nearly three-fourths (72%) of the people who sought the Time’s Up fund’s help said they had faced retaliation in some form for reporting sexual harassment. This retaliation took the form of poor performance reviews, promotions being denied, defamation lawsuits and threats of physical harm. Over a third said that they were fired in retaliation for coming forward.

The study had several interesting (and disturbing) findings that indicate just how destructive sexual harassment (and retaliation for reporting it) can be. For example:

  • Almost a fifth of the employees (18%) were subjected to other types of harassment in addition to sexual harassment, including harassment based on their race or disability.
  • More than a fifth (22%) said their economic well-being suffered.
  • Some 19% said the harassment damaged their mental health.
  • A full 11% reported their sexual harassment to law enforcement.

Over half of those studied (56%) said their harasser was their boss. With this statistic in mind, the Time’s Up Foundation commended people who have the courage to speak up in these situations.

Despite the potential ramifications, another Time’s Up study found that 80% of respondents said they’d report sexual harassment if they were the victim of it – even in difficult economic times. The authors of the study expressed optimism that sexual harassment in the workplace will not be overlooked in the future.