When employees in New York and throughout the country report sexual harassment in the workplace to their human resources department, they may be dissatisfied with the outcome. They might go weeks without hearing anything further, and nothing may happen to the perpetrator. They might feel they are facing retaliation. This is true even though awareness of sexual harassment at work is on the rise. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment claims went up more than 13% in 2018.
The MeToo movement drew attention to sexual harassment in a range of major New York industries, including entertainment, media and tech. Sparked by the revelations of high-flying Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's harassment of actresses, MeToo encouraged women to tell their stories of sexual harassment on the job and hold perpetrators publicly accountable. Many activists hoped to see long-term results that could make the workplace more inclusive and safer for all. However, some study results indicate that the aftermath of MeToo is not leading to less harassment but to new forms of discrimination against women.
Sexual harassment can be a problem for New York workers in an array of occupations. Some industries may have unique challenges in dealing with harassment, especially the hospitality sector, where many customers come through and women workers in particular may face aggressive, uncomfortable interactions. Bars and restaurants have developed a bad reputation for being places where questionable behavior was tolerated between staff or from high-ranking chefs and owners. The #MeToo movement highlighted a number of well-known restaurateurs for this type of behavior. However, the next step involves creating practices that aim to provide long-term solutions for harassment on the job.
Women in New York might be facing more sexism in the workplace overall even though they may be encountering less sexual harassment than they were just a few years earlier. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado interviewed more than 500 women around the country in September 2016 and again in September 2018. In that time, the percentage who said they had experienced unwanted sexual attention in the workplace dropped from 66% to 25%. However, in 2018, 93% of women said they experienced sexism compared to 76% in 2016.
Despite the rise of the #MeToo movement and public exposure of prominent sexual harassers, many women in New York and around the country fear to report inappropriate behavior, although some have come forward about their experiences in the workplace. Even when they do, they are sometimes criticized for taking time before reporting the issues. Some believe that all employees need to do is report the problem in order to solve it. In reality, retaliation is a very serious concern.
While people in New York are now more aware of sexual harassment, it continues to pose a serious problem on the job for many women. The #MeToo movement shed light on harassment and sexual coercion in major industries, including entertainment, politics and technology. While it may have bolstered some women's willingness to report inappropriate treatment on the job, the movement has not stopped sexual harassment from taking place. Indeed, women are still facing firing, demotion or attempts to force them out of their jobs, especially after reporting harassment incidents.
Over the last couple of years, the problem of sexual harassment (in all areas of life) has come into sharper focus and greater public awareness. Even many women who have personally experienced sexual harassment or assault did not know the true scale of the problem because it was seldom discussed publicly. Thankfully, that is changing.
Bringing awareness to a serious issue can often help find a resolution to the problem. Just over a year ago, the #MeToo movement began, and now, several states are addressing the issue of sexual harassment by mandating workplace training regarding the issue. At this point, however, states do not seem to be working together to create a cohesive training program, and some states have not mandated such training at all.
Everyone wants to have places to go where they feel they can conduct themselves and their activities safely. While many individuals consider their home one of these places, their workplaces should also fall into this category. Unfortunately, for many female workers, their work environments feel anything but safe due to the sexual harassment they face.
Some workplace environments can allow individuals to feel as if they have a family in their co-workers and a home away from home. Unfortunately, many employees in various industries do not have such benefits. In fact, their work environments can be hostile, and they can face mistreatment from their co-workers, including in the form of sexual harassment.