High Profile Cases Raise Awareness of Sexual Harassment

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As investigations continue into allegations of sexual harassment committed by the New York Governor, prosecutors have found evidence of a hostile workplace where initial accusations were suppressed.  Sexual harassment and assault is very common and, according to figures reported by ABC News, has been experienced by 54% of women in the workplace. Greater awareness of harassment and its distressing consequences has lead the majority of companies in the US to to put a sexual harassment policy in place. To be effective the policy should be routinely updated to include new developments and procedures and should also include regular training of the whole workforce including the CEO and other executives. From recognizing the limits of acceptable behavior to dealing with undesired sexual contact, understanding what constitutes sexual harassment, and speaking up as soon as it occurs, can protect women at work from further abuse.

The Consequences of Sexual Assault

Sexual harassment, assault and abuse are prevalent in society. While it is an offence under federal law to harass anyone because of their sex, 60% of women have experienced unwanted sexual comments, attention and coercion in the workplace. Sexual harassment of any kind can be distressing and have a damaging impact not only on the victim but on other employees who witness its occurrence. The potential for more serious sexual abuse also exists in almost every setting including the workplace. As the testimony of women reporting historic cases of sexual abuse is welcomed, current victims may feel more empowered to bring their own cases to light. Sexual abuse cases can be challenging but a sexual abuse lawyer has experience in uncovering misconduct at an institutional level, allowing victims to bring their abusers to justice.

Reporting Sexual Harassment

In more complex harassment cases at work, it may be necessary to speak to a manager or follow a company’s procedures for reporting harassment. The law only allows a period of 180 days from the date of the incident during which a complaint can be filed, so reporting harassment promptly is important. In Texas, however, two new laws will not only give victims more time to make a complaint but also protect employees at smaller companies that were previously exempt from sexual harassment laws. After September 1st, victims of sexual harassment in the state will have 300 days after the incident in which to file a claim, giving them longer to gather evidence and instruct a lawyer to represent them if necessary.

Sexual harassment is common, and in the workplace it is not only distressing for anyone involved but can also lead to victims losing their job. High profile cases of sexual assault continue to prompt changes in attitudes towards harassment, and new laws provide greater protection for victims. While promptly reporting any incidents can help to prevent unwelcome behavior, for more serious cases dealing with sexual abuse, legal assistance may be required to achieve justice.

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