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Why do employees delay reporting sexual harassment?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Employment Law

In some cases, employees who experience sexual harassment will not report it for weeks, months or even years. In other cases, these employees never report what happened to them.

From the outside, people are often surprised. If this is such a serious situation, why didn’t the employee report it? Why would they delay and then talk about something that happened a year ago? The truth is that there are many different reasons, and the situation is very complex.

Worries about retaliation

Often, the issue is that the person is concerned about retaliation. They’re worried that the company is going to blacklist them and they’ll be fired and unable to find a similar job in their industry. Or perhaps they’re worried that the person being accused of sexual harassment will retaliate. If it’s their direct supervisor, for example, they may still have to work for that person even after they make the report. What if their hours get cut or their pay is reduced? What if the supervisor treats them poorly or gives them all the jobs no one wants to do?

An additional issue is that many workers are concerned that no one will take them seriously or believe them. So they worry that making a report won’t accomplish anything positive, but could be detrimental to their career.

Your legal options

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s very important to remember that retaliation is illegal. If you report sexual harassment and you are then fired or you see your pay cut, that is a violation of your rights as an employee – along with the initial sexual harassment. That’s why it’s so important for you to know exactly what legal protections you have and what steps you can take at this time.