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Sexual harassment at work: Why do women stay silent?


Sexual harassment can happen at any workplace. When confronted with this behavior in the workplace, many victims and observers stay silent - and there are many reasons why.

Harvard Business Review conducted interviews with women who worked in male-dominated industries. The study identified three top reasons why women stay silent and fail to report sexual harassment at work:

  • Fear of retaliation: Many female employees fear that their employers will punish them for speaking out against sexual harassment. Retaliation can include threatening, harassing, verbally abusing, physically abusing, demoting or firing an employee.
  • The bystander effect: The bystander effect is a psychological phenomenon that describes a situation in which individuals are less likely to assist a victim when other people are present. There are a couple of known reasons why this happens: One, individuals feel less individual responsibility when several others are present ("diffusion of responsibility") and two, individuals will observe each others' behavior to determine the correct behavior. If nobody is doing anything, they will likely not intervene.
  • Male-dominated workplaces: Workplaces that are dominated by males - or those that have a strong masculine culture - can perpetuate a work environment that is toxic for women. In these workplaces, females may feel inferior or outnumbered. They may also feel the need to downplay harassing behavior to fit in.

Nobody should have to tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace. Victims have legal rights and protections. They may be eligible for compensation.

Talk to an attorney today: If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, call Bononi Law Group, LLP, at 866-295-7512.

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