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October 26, 2017: Recent Washington Post/ABC Poll Confirms Most Women Decline to Report Workplace Sexual Harassment

Recent complaints lodged against Harvey Weinstein have sparked substantial discussion about sexual harassment. On FaceBook, an alarming number of females have posted “Me Too” indicating that they have been the victim of unwanted sexual advances. A large majority of the unwanted sexual advances arise in workplace settings, in cases where the harasser has influence over the victim’s employment. A poll recently conducted by The Washington Post and ABC revealed that 30% of women surveyed stated that they had experienced unwanted sexual advances from a man at the place they worked. The poll further showed that 58% of these victims never reported the incident of harassment to anyone in a supervisory position. The reasons sexual harassment often goes unreported are no mystery. Victims of harassment fear retaliation for waging accusations against the harasser. Victims of sexual harassment also experience shame and humiliation that they fear will be exacerbated if they report harassment. The silence is unfortunate, insofar as workplace sexual harassment is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and by the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). Title VII applies to employers with more than 15 workers, while the CADA covers employers who have fewer than 15 employees. Title VII and the CADA also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report that they are victims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment takes many forms and can include: inappropriate comments about appearance; questions about love life or sexual preferences; sexually explicit jokes or comments; sexist and demeaning comments about women; requests for sexual favors or sexual contact; and unwanted touching, amongst other things. Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment. Many companies have detailed written policies in place that provide examples of sexual harassment and also provide instructions to victims of sexual harassment about how to report the harassment. Victims of sexual harassment should follow their Company’s reporting policies to a tee in order to preserve legal claims down the road. Victims should also document the harassment to the full extent possible by keeping a detailed journal with dates and incidents of what was said or done. Legal claims for workplace sexual harassment and retaliation route through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD). Victims must file a Charge with the EEOC/CCRD in order to ultimately pursue their claims in court. The Law Offices of Elizabeth “Booka” Smith, LLC has significant experience representing victims of workplace sexual harassment before the EEOC, the CCRD, and in State and federal courts. If you have experienced workplace sexual harassment, and/or if you have suffered an adverse employment action (e.g. termination, demotion, suspension) because you complained about workplace sexual harassment, CONTACT US to schedule an appointment for advice on your best course of action.

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