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Workers and bosses have different ideas about sexual harassment

If a single news story has dominated the 2018 headlines, it's been sexual harassment in the workplace. One would think that awareness of the issue is at an all-time high, yet studies show that the problem itself is as prevalent as ever.

A recent report indicates that executives often believe the issue is settled, but employees throughout the organization feel otherwise. Looking at the findings, 70 percent of executives believe their company does not tolerate harassment. The study finds that fewer than half of employees at other levels feel the same way. In fact, many people believe it's "happening all the time."

Why is there such a disconnect?

There are two reasons suggested for why executives and employees feel differently. First, many cases of harassment go unreported. While retaliation for filing a harassment claim is illegal, it still happens frequently. Many employees fear the response to a complaint so they don't make one. A culture of fear permeates the work environment.

A second reason is poor communication. Many executives emphasize data and profits without addressing workplace culture. While many companies have updated their policies in the past year, they may not have communicated this throughout the organization. When a leader doesn't address topics by name, employees naturally question the company's dedication.

Complaints on the rise

Sexual harassment is unfortunately widespread in every industry, and it's necessary to speak up to make it stop. The EEOC reports a 12 percent increase in claims, which is a start. Needless to say, the issue is more complicated. Filing a claim may lead to additional harassment and retaliation, which is why it can be beneficial to work with an employment law attorney to address your situation and to protect yourself throughout the process.

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