Research indicates that about a third of women between the ages of 18 and 34 have at one time or another been the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, and some studies have claimed that the true figure could be as high as 80 percent. This kind of harassment is overwhelmingly committed by men, and the victims are often among the most vulnerable members of the workforce. Workers in California are protected by some of the strictest employment laws in the country, but studies reveal that a great deal of sexual harassment in the workplace goes unreported.
Women subjected to lewd comments or unwanted sexual advances while at work are often reluctant to come forward because they feel that they will not be believed or fear retaliation from their employers. Women in this situation should memorialize their experiences in a notebook or computer even if they are not yet ready to take action, and they should also document and keep copies of any improper emails or text messages.
Taking these steps may become important as time goes on because innapropriate behavior often gets progressively more serious when left unchecked, and conduct that could be considered too minor to report such as rowdy language or innuendo can quickly escalate into sexual assault.
Experienced employment law attorneys often advise the victims of this type of behavior to make a report to their employers before initiating a legal action. Timely reporting of harassment could prevent employers from mounting an avoidable consequences defense if litigation is subsequently filed against them, but this may not be a viable option if the harasser is the victim's sole supervisor or has close relationships with senior executives.