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Workplace victims unlikely to report their experiences

A 2016 study conducted by an EEOC task force found that only 6 to 13 percent of those who are harassed at work file a complaint. Harassment based on gender was unlikely to be reported while just 8 percent of incidents involving unwanted touching were reported. Most victims in California and elsewhere failed to report harassment out of fear that nothing would happen after a claim was filed.

Employees may also fear that reporting an incident would lead to some form of retaliation. According to a 2003 study, 75 percent of workers who reported being mistreated at work were retaliated against in some form. Employers might show indifference toward complaints or make light of them. Despite these reactions, it is important to note that sexual harassment has been illegal under Title VII since 1986. The EEOC says that new training methods may be effective in changing how people perceive sexual harassment at work.

Training programs are available based on the needs of a given employer. For instance, training classes may be tailored to the specific needs of a law firm or a restaurant. Workers may also receive bystander training so that they understand what to do if they witness inappropriate behavior in the workplace or anywhere else it may occur.

As a general rule, employees are protected from retaliation after reporting sexual harassment or other mistreatment at work. If an employer takes steps to demote or terminate a worker after such a report, that person may have grounds to take legal action. An attorney may be able to review a case to determine if a violation of employment law occurred. If a retaliation claim is successful, a worker might be entitled to back pay or other damages.

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