Sexual Harassment in the Workplace – Will it Ever End?

With all the recent stories in the news, it should come as no surprise that sexual harassment and sex discrimination is still prevalent in the workplace.  Dozens of allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault have now been brought forward against Harvey Weinstein of The Weinstein Company.  Roy Price, the Studio Chief of Amazon Studios, resigned from his position following allegations of sexual harassment by an executive producer.  Uber was just sued by three female employees for discriminatory pay practices at the company following allegations earlier this year of a work environment that fostered sexual harassment.  Uber’s CEO ultimately stepped down in the wake of a sexual harassment investigation.  

These recent news stories show sexual harassment from very large companies coming from the very top of their ranks.  With the claims made against The Weinstein Company, it has been publicized that the company and its board were made aware, as early as 2015, of several confidential settlements that had been reached with women who brought claims against Mr. Weinstein.  Not only does the company face countless moral and ethical questions about how Mr. Weinstein’s behavior was swept under the rug, but there is also a question about how much of an impact this will have on the company moving forward with numerous legal claims almost certainly in their future.  While these stories have been plastered over the news in recent months, these situations are far too common in today’s workplace.        

When an employee in Texas complains about sexual harassment or sex discrimination in the workplace, he or she files what is called a charge of discrimination with the Texas Workforce Commission or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  While the numbers have not increased dramatically in recent years, the EEOC’s statistics show that nearly 27,000 charges were filed alleging sex discrimination during 2016, accounting for nearly 30% of all charges of discrimination.    So, is sexual harassment and sex discrimination coming to an end anytime soon?  The short answer: No. 

What to do if you are a victim of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace can come in many forms.  An employee can be sexually harassed by his/her co-worker, client, vendor, boss, VP, President or CEO.  When you are the victim of this type of behavior, there are two steps you should always take: first, document the harassment as best you can and second, make a complaint.  The only way to put a stop to this illegal behavior is to voice your complaint to someone at the company (e.g. HR, a supervisor, etc.), and let it be known that you are not going to tolerate it moving forward.  This can be done over the phone or in person, but it is better to document it in writing via an email or letter. 

If you want to know more about what your legal options are prior to making a complaint, you should always feel comfortable reaching out to an employment lawyer in your area.  Additionally, if you make a complaint to your employer and the sexual harassment does not stop, you should immediately reach out to an employment lawyer to discuss your next steps.


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