In the media and online, sexual harassment is generally talked about as it connects to the #MeToo movement. While the press often focuses on high-profile harassment cases involving celebrities and athletes, the reality of sexual harassment is much more stark. In a recent survey, 38 percent of women and an unknown percentage of men said that they’d been sexually harassed at work. Harassment happens in all industries. Some groups of people, such as women who work in tipped industries, are at a greater risk of being harassed on the job. If you’ve suffered from sexual harassment in your workplace, an attorney can help you understand how the law protects you and what your legal options for recourse are.

The Prevalence of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is known to be detrimental to the mental health of the person being harassed. It also creates a toxic work environment that can undermine productivity on a larger level. Laws including Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law prohibit sexual harassment in workplaces. However, sexual harassment continues to a significant degree in many industries.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recognized and studied the problem of sexual harassment at work. In an analysis of 85,000 harassment cases handled by the agency between 2005 and 2015, the EEOC found that 80 percent of sexual harassment cases are brought by women. However, men can also be victims of harassment and often find it much harder to report inappropriate behavior at work.

The EEOC also noted that the most harassment cases come from the hotel and restaurant industry, where women who work in tipped jobs are often harassed by both their employers and business patrons. Women of color are at particularly high risk for being harassed in tipped jobs. Employees in this industry who face harassment are often afraid to complain about supervisors, coworkers or clients because they fear losing their job or their tips.

Sexual Harassment by Industry

While sexual harassment happens in all industries, it’s important to know which industries pose the highest harassment risks for employees. In its study, the EEOC found that

  • 14.23 percent of cases came from the hotel and food industry,
  • 13.44 percent of cases came from the retail industry,
  • 11.72 percent of cases came from the manufacturing industry,
  • 11.48 percent of cases came from the health care and social assistance industry,
  • 6.92 percent of cases came from the administrative, support, waste management and remediation industries,
  • 5.73 percent of cases came from the public administration sector,
  • 4.94 percent of cases came from the professional, scientific and technical services industries,
  • 3.98 percent of cases came from the transportation and warehousing industry,
  • 3.98 percent of cases came from the finance and insurance industry,
  • 2.87 percent of cases came from the information industry,
  • 2.52 percent of cases came from the construction industry,
  • 2.27 percent of cases came from the wholesale trade industry,
  • 1.95 percent of cases came from the real estate and rental industry,
  • 1.61 percent of cases came from the arts, entertainment and recreation industries, and
  • less than 1 percent of cases came from other industries such as agriculture, forestry and utilities.

Expressing your concerns about sexual harassment at work might seem intimidating, especially if you work in a low wage job or for a small company. Remember that both state and federal laws are in place to protect you from sexual harassment at work. If you’ve been a victim of harassment, it’s time to talk to one of the attorneys at Leeds Brown Law about the legal relief that may be available to you.

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