Sexual harassment in the workplace

Recent allegations made against powerful people in entertainment and politics have shone new light on sexual harassment across all industries and in all states, including Indiana. An outgrowth of the newfound focus on workplace sexual misconduct is the "me too" campaign, which has provided a platform for men and women to come forward with details of their experiences working in diverse work environments. Companies large and small have and do face legal actions based on the manner in which they handle sexual harassment cases.

Even with the prevalence of workplace sexual misconduct, only 30 percent of those experiencing harassment lodge a complaint with their employers. An even smaller percentage of those complaining file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC, which investigates meritorious sexual harassment claims, received 27,000 sexual harassment complaints in 2016.

The posture a company takes in handling sexual harassment allegations could determine whether allegations turn into lawsuits. Companies that take a "not us" approach to sexual harassment may find themselves embarrassed when allegations of harassment are made public. Engaging proactive steps such as publicized anti-harassment policies, taking immediate action when claims are made and investigating allegations could lessen a company's exposure to legal action.

Workers in all industries have the right to have their claims of sexual harassment investigated and remediated. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for lodging a sexual harassment complaint. If after complaining, the employee feels their employer failed to address the complaint adequately, they may benefit from the assistance of legal counsel. The attorney could prepare and proceed with the filing of a legal suit.

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