Some California employees may be reluctant to report sexual harassment at work. The Society for Human Resource Management found that of the 11 percent of employees who said they had been sexually harassed in the last year, more than three-fourths did not report the harassment. One problem that emerged was that employees might not know the specifics of their employers’ sexual harassment policies, including whether they would be protected from retaliation. Many people also felt that reporting the harassment would not change anything.
Among human resources professionals, just over one-third said that in the last year, there had been one or more allegations of sexual harassment at their company. More than half said they thought minor incidents of sexual harassment went unreported at their organization. Just over one-third of non-management employees believed this. The chief executive officer of SHRM said that cultures within organizations could allow sexual harassment to thrive. In some cases, people might not realize that some behaviors are inappropriate. The most commonly reported form of sexual harassment was verbal.
The research also reports that while almost all HR professionals said their organization had a sexual harassment policy, more than 20 percent of employees who were not management were uncertain as to whether their workplace had one. However, organizations are working to improve and adapt their training and to have more regular training.
Even if a person is harassed at a workplace that has a sexual harassment policy, that person might want to speak to an attorney before making a report. Unfortunately, despite what the policy says, an organization might not respond appropriately to the report. Consulting an attorney may help a person understand the legal situation and what to do if the workplace does not conduct an investigation or if the person is retaliated against for reporting the harassment.