3 environmental risk factors for workplace sexual harassment

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2023 | Employment Law |

While sexual harassment occurs in virtually all Delaware industries, people who work in certain types of work settings are more likely to experience it than others. When sexual harassment does occur, it may make it harder for the victim to perform his or her job. It may, too, lead to emotional and trauma-related issues, some of which may continue long after the harassment ends.

Per the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the following are three examples of work-related environmental factors that increase the chances of sexual harassment occurring in a particular place of business.

1. Reliance on tips

Sexual harassment is often more prevalent in bars, restaurants and other environments where employees depend on tips to make a living. This type of environment helps breed sexual harassment because an employee’s income directly correlates to customer satisfaction. This may make a worker less likely to speak out about becoming a victim of harassment.

2. Young workforces

Statistics show that sexual harassment is also common in work environments where employees tend to be young. This may be due at least in part to the fact that people who are newer to the workforce may not have a firm understanding of what does and does not constitute appropriate workplace behavior.

3. Power disparities

Those employed in a work environment that has significant power disparities among members of its workforce may also see more instances of sexual harassment than those in other work settings. Lower-ranking employees are also frequent victims of sexual harassment. This might be because they are less likely to understand how to report this type of treatment through internal channels, and because they fear speaking out against superiors because they do not want to risk their jobs.

Workplace sexual harassment may have lasting effects, but there are legal protections in place for many workers who fall victim to it.