More than one-third (35 percent) of employees in the U.S. feel they’ve experienced workplace harassment, and half of them believe it was due to their gender.
That’s according to a study released by specialty insurer Hiscox, which also found that 78 percent of those who were harassed said it was perpetrated by a male, and 73 percent said their harasser was in a senior position.
The 2018 Hiscox Workplace Harassment Study surveyed 500 U.S. adults (250 men and 250 women) employed full-time.
Among women, 41 percent reported that feel they’ve experienced workplace harassment.
While gender and seniority are key factors in workplace harassment, they’re not the only ones. The data also showed that some harassment was committed by women against men, by members of the same sex and by non-company employees, such as customers or vendors.
All of these scenarios represent incidents in which a company could be subject to liability and financial loss if it fails to appropriately protect their employees.
Despite more than one in three employees saying they felt harassed, 40 percent of those respondents said they never reported the harassment to company management or the police. The top reason cited for the failure to report was the fear the allegations would create a hostile work environment (53 percent).
Of those who were harassed and did report it, 37 percent did not believe the incident was handled properly by their employer, and for women who reported harassment, this figure climbed to 49 percent.
It’s not just victims who don’t report harassment. Forty-five percent of all respondents said they have witnessed harassment in the workplace, 42 percent of whom did not report it.
Companies of all sizes are subject to harassment claims. In fact, the percentage of respondents who indicated they had been harassed was the same (32 percent) at companies with fewer than 200 employees as it was at those with more than 1,000 employees.
According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), from 2010 to 2017, employers paid out nearly $1 billion to settle harassment charges that have been filed with the EEOC. In cases of sexual harassment alone, employers paid $46.3 million to settle charges received by the EEOC in 2017, which represented 30 percent of the total charges.
Even worse, those totals do not include any payments received by plaintiffs as a result of litigation.
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