4 reasons why sexual harassment often goes unreported

Employees in New York have rights and protections from being mistreated on the job, and anyone who is subjected to misconduct like sexual harassment is encouraged to report it. Should that fail to remedy the situation, people have the right to take legal action. Unfortunately, this is all easier said than done. 

In reality, as discussed in this New York Times article, many instances of sexual harassment go unreported for a number of reasons. Below are some of the common reasons why people decide not to report sexual harassment.

  1. Victims can be scared of the repercussions. Even though laws prohibit retaliation, victims can still feel that their job is no longer safe, or that people will look at them differently for reporting harassment.
  2. They may not be confident that certain behaviors are actually considered harassment. Victims can feel like they are misinterpreting something or that they are somehow making it up. In theory, it can be easy to know what harassment is, but in reality, there are a lot of gray areas and blurry boundary lines.
  3. Victims are embarrassed. Reporting inappropriate conduct can make people feel awkward or self-conscious, especially when explaining it to an HR representative, who could be a total stranger. 
  4. They feel like they can just avoid it. It can seem much easier to just avoid a harasser or ignore misconduct than it is to file a complaint. But, ignoring it won’t make it go away.

If you are feeling any of these things with regard to workplace harassment, we encourage you not to give up hope or assume that you are fighting a losing battle. Sexual harassment on the job is very serious and you have rights as an employee.

We understand that it can be uncomfortable and scary to speak out about this type of treatment. However, by holding accountable the parties who have violated your rights and securing the legal action and compensation you may deserve, you are not only protecting yourself; you can also be protecting others who are also suffering from the same misconduct.

Remember, too, that you do not have to go through this alone. You can work with an attorney who can defend you and stand up to the parties who have mistreated you.

super lawyers
New York County Lawyers Association
New York City Bar
NELA Advocates for Employee Rights National Employment Lawyers Association
lead counsel lc verified