Study uncovers widespread retaliation in sexual harassment cases

| Nov 12, 2020 | Employment Law |

A study suggests that workers in Delaware and around the country who report on-the-job sexual harassment often face retaliation of one kind or another. The study, which was published on Oct. 15, was conducted by the National Women’s Law Center and based on an analysis of 3,317 requests for assistance submitted to the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. The defense fund was set up by the Washington, D.C., nonprofit group in 2018 to provide assistance to sexual harassment victims.

Threats of violence

More than seven out of 10 of the cases studied included allegations of retaliation ranging from the denial of promotions to termination. More than a third of the women who contacted the defense fund said that they had been subjected to physical harassment such as sexual assault or rape, and 15% of them said they were threatened with litigation, termination or physical violence if they reported the conduct.

No consequences for harassers

Advocacy groups will likely find the way employers responded to allegations of sexual harassment almost as worrying. More than a third of the harassers faced no consequences for their actions even though 56% of them supervised their victims. The victims of sexual harassment fared much worse. More than a third of the workers who faced retaliatory action say they were fired, and 19% of them said that they received poor performance reviews after stepping forward.

Taking legal action

The consequences of retaliating against the victims of workplace harassment or discrimination can be severe for employers, which is why they often seek to settle these matters discretely when workers take legal action. Attorneys with experience in this area could seek to avoid protracted court proceedings by reminding them of these risks during settlement discussions.