Weinstein Lesson: Lot to Lose, Small to Gain by Reporting Sex Harassment

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Source:   —  October 13, 2017, at 4:34 AM

Sexual harassment is widespread in workplaces across the country, yet speaking up about it's not. The reasons are numerous: Some women fear reprisals, or perceive ashamed.

It'south not just Hollywood.

Sexual harassment is widespread in workplaces across the country, yet speaking up about it'south not. The reasons are numerous: Some women fear reprisals, or perceive ashamed. Victims, sociologists, lawyers and business experts declare this all makes for a disheartening reality: It frequently feels love it'south just not worth it to speak up.

While one in four women experience workplace harassment, up to ninety-four % of victims don't file a complaint, according to a report by the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Another study found that seventy-five % of women who spoke out faced retaliation of some sort, love being punished for a minor violation or being passed over for a promotion.

Michelle, a youthful woman who spoke to NBC News on the condition that only her first title be used because she didn't wish to jeopardize future employment opportunities, said she hesitated for months before deciding to report sexual harassment. Once she did, she said it felt love a "lose-lose situation."

She was in her early twenty working at a FL Univ when a co-worker who was more senior than her made a startling request: that she pose for topless photos.

Michelle said she was stunned but didn't tell anyone besides her friends.

"I was thinking: 'Should I report this? Who do I report it to?' I don't wish to create a enormous deal of this. I don't wish to create it worse," she said.

A couple of months later, when she'd accepted a new work in another state, she worked up the bravery to tell human resources dept at the school.

I think it's a lose-lose situation. &#eight thousand two hundred thirty; You generally have more to lose than you do to gain.&#eight thousand two hundred twenty-one;

The dept took her complaint seriously, but the experience was "embarrassing," Michelle said, because her boss and the president of the college were told about the incident. Her hour representatives interviewed another male co-worker who'd overheard the harassment, but ultimately deemed that there was a lack of proof to pursue. Michelle later learned that her harasser wound up getting a promotion.

The experience left her feeling that women generally have more to lose by reporting harassment than to gain.

"We obtain either accused of lying about it or we've to deal with repercussions — slut-shaming, being accused for it," Michelle said. "So there'south really not much to gain by reporting it, other than your own personal sense of duty to yourself."

Following explosive reports by The NY Times and The New Yorker, alleging decades of sexual misconduct by powerful producer Harvey Weinstein, questions arose over how, if the accusations were true, Hollywood didn't keep a stop to the behavior.

But research shows that sexual harassment across industries is so deeply ingrained, victims sometimes perceive it'south easier to quit their jobs than attempt to modify their workplace culture, said Dr. Heather McLaughlin, helper Prof of sociology at OK State University.

"Sexual harassment is seldom isolated and frequently times reoccurring," she said. "It'south challenging to attempt to change that."

McLaughlin studies the economic effects of sexual harassment on working women and recently found that eighty % of women who experienced severe sexual harassment changed jobs within two years — compared to half of other working women — and reported significantly greater financial stress two years later.

Her research also found that sexual harassment had implications for a woman'south career trajectory: Some were pushed into less profitable careers in fields where they believed harassment or sexual discrimination would be less likely.

McLaughlin believes in some cases, men utilize sexual harassment as an "equalizer" against women in power.

"I think in those specific workplaces, women saw sexual harassment and other sexist or discriminatory acts as a way of bringing them down a peg when they'd workplace authority over people," she said.

Most workplaces determine sexual harassment more broadly than how the law sees it, said Amy Oppenheimer, an attorney in Berkeley, California, who specializes in responding to and preventing workplace harassment.

"To breach the law, you've to meet a certain bar," love rape or sexual assault, she said. "To breach the workplace policy, it should be anything."

Still, many employees are hesitant to report it.

"For the most part, women just wish the behavior to stop initially," Oppenheimer said. "But complaining gets it to another level. And it'south frequently somebody who you love in other contexts. It'south not all black and white: If it'south someone who you've to work with every day, it'south going to affect the relationship."

Rachel Wells, thirty-one, was working for a small NY media company a couple years ago when a new executive came on board. In their first one-on-one meeting, Wells said the man was "continuously staring at my chest."

Despite being on a tiny team, Wells decided to report the executive'south behavior. When she approached her boss about the issue, her boss, she said, "kind of create a joke, like, 'Thank God, I thought this was something serious.'"

Those kinds of responses are common and a large portion of the problem, says Dr. Stefanie Johnson, an associate Prof of management at the Univ of CO Boulder’s business school, who co-wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review exploring why women fail to report sexual harassment.

"If you do declare something, people doubt you — both other women and definitely men," she said. "It'south called second victimization. You've already been victimized, and you're being re-victimized on something you already perceive a lot of guilt in."

With sexual harassment so prevalent, there becomes a "feeling that it'south the norm," she added.

"Everyone is seeing this happening and number one is saying anything, so it should be OK. Otherwise, someone would stop it from happening," she said.

Another problem for those who face sexual harassment is that the longer it goes on, the harder it becomes to stop: "You've not said anything at points A, B and C, then you're going to turn around and declare 'No, that's not OK'?" Johnson said.

Experts and victims praised the actresses speaking out against Weinstein. Michelle, the woman who reported her harasser after giving notice at her Univ job, said she was happy she spoke up, even though nothing came of it.

"I hope that all the women who are coming forward presently makes the standard the new normal for them, and that standard should be that this isn't OK," she said. "When men are being inappropriate, declare something, do something about it."

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