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How Common is Sexual Harassment in America?

By Dan Atkerson on December 19, 2016

Gender DiscriminationWhen most people think of sexual harassment in America, they picture an earlier time, when there were no laws to prevent women from being abused and mistreated. While it’s true that our culture has come a long way in the past few decades, the reality is that this is still an extremely common problem.

A recent segment on ABC News demonstrated this. It pulled ten women at random and had them on the morning show. They came from all different industries and backgrounds. When the interviewer asked them about their workplace experiences, 4 of the 10 women said that they had been sexually harassed.

Each had a different story. One woman endured endless cat calls while working at a restaurant. One business professional recalled being pressured by coworkers to perform sexual favors for compensation. The story struck a chord. Some were shocked to find that so many modern women endured this kind of treatment. The truth is that these women’s experiences are far from unusual.

How Common is Sexual Harassment in America?

It’s tough to know just how common the crime is since most instances never get reported. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were 6,822 reported cases of sexual harassment in 2015.

Evidence seems to show that when the actual definition of harassment is explained, far more Americans have endured the treatment than they realize. A survey asking workers about their experiences found that 25 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment and did not realize their experiences fell within the definition.

Another common myth is that only women face this issue. The same survey showed that 17 percent of sexual harassment victims are men. Cultural stigma and unreported issues have created this misconception that there are no male victims, but this is clearly far from the truth.

Who is at Risk for Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment does not happen in any one profession, industry or organizational level. People of all races, sexual orientations, education levels and economic statuses have been victims of this crime. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, in any line of work. It’s time that we recognize the prevalence of this issue. After all, accepting a harsh reality is often the first step towards change.

Dan. A Atkerson is a Dallas employment lawyer who fights passionately on behalf of victims of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and other forms of workplace injustice.

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