Providing legal excellence for over 65 years in Kentucky

Workplace characteristics that can lead to sexual harassment

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2024 | Employment Law For Employees

Despite several public safety initiatives and amplified media coverage about the issue, sexual harassment continues to be a problem in America’s workplaces. Those who are victimized by it can feel humiliated and threatened, and if they report the harassment or don’t give into their harasser’s demands, then they could wind up on the receiving end of an adverse employment action, such as demotion, reassignment, or even termination.

But not all workplaces are equal. Some are more susceptible to sexual harassment than others. Let’s take a closer look at some of the workplace characteristics that oftentimes lead to sexual harassment.

Factors in the workplace that can increase the risk of sexual harassment

While sexual harassment can occur in any workplace, there are some that give rise to a heightened possibility of inappropriate behavior being targeted against workers. The following factors can be key indicators of a heightened risk of sexual harassment:

  1. Power imbalance: Everyone has a boss. But in many workplaces, the power dynamic between supervisors and subordinates is so skewed that workers are left in vulnerable positions. And when they do report egregious behavior like sexual harassment, they often aren’t believed, or their supervisor wields their power against the accuser. This, in turn, creates fear of reporting and retaliation.
  2. Reporting procedures that are lacking: Employers should have a clear process for reporting sexual harassment, but many don’t. This leaves workers unsure of what they need to do to report harassing behavior and bring it to a stop. This, of course, allows the perpetrator of sexual harassment to continue their behavior without repercussion, putting workers at risk of additional harm. Also, a poor reporting scheme can make it hard for victims to create the record they need to support a sexual harassment legal claim.
  3. Existing office culture: Some workplaces are stuck in the past where inappropriate jokes and sexualized behavior was more common and accepted than it should’ve been. If this type of workplace culture has persisted, then workers are more likely to be sexually harassed, and their employer is less likely to do anything about it to protect them.
  4. Lack of overall accountability: If workers aren’t held accountable for their inappropriate behaviors, then other unlawful behavior can thrive unchecked. So, if you see your supervisor or your co-workers getting away with a lot of questionable statements and behaviors, then you’re at an increased risk of being subjected to sexual harassment.
  5. Gender imbalance: Obviously, there’s no requirement that your workplace hire a certain ratio of men and women. But in many instances, workforces that are predominantly male-driven see an increased risk that women who work there will be subjected to harassing behavior.
  6. Inexperienced workers: Workplaces that have several younger workers sometimes see more sexual harassment because these younger individuals simply aren’t as equipped to identify harassing behavior and aren’t informed on how to stop it.
  7. Diversity: LGBTQ workers are oftentimes at an elevated risk of being harassed at work due to others being unaccepting of their sexuality.

You deserve to be safe at work. If you’re being sexually harassed, then you should take action to not only bring the behavior in question to a stop, but also to seek compensation for the harm that’s been caused to you. It can be stressful to think about going up against your employer, but your voice can and should be heard. So, if you’re ready to find accountability, now is the time to gather evidence and stand up to protect your rights.