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Sexual harassment victims are often afraid to speak out at work

Although sexual harassment is a problem in workplaces in Michigan and around the country, the behavior is often not reported by victims due to a fear of retaliation. In many cases, those who harassed feel that they won't be able to apply for other positions if they file a lawsuit. Sometimes, a business will decide to settle the case out of court in an attempt to keep it out of the spotlight, but word will often get out to prospective employers of the victim.

Those who are familiar with sexual harassment issues say that the most compelling cases are the ones with the most facts associated with them. These are the ones that are often settled outside of court, and those that do go to trial tend to be cases that the company thinks it can win. Due to the personal and public nature of such trials, those who hold executive positions within a company are less likely to file sexual harassment lawsuits.

Employers may ask all employees to sign an arbitration agreement that will govern in the event of a dispute, which means that a sexual harassment case will be held in private in front of an arbitrator whose decision is binding. However, the arbitrator may be more interested in developing a long-term business relationship with the employer, which may work against those who file harassment complaints. Additionally, cases that are resovled privately generally do not help establish legal precedents for future cases.

Workers who are asked to perform sexual favors or are subject to other types of inappropriate behavior may wish to contact an an attorney to determine the remedies that may be available. Workplace sexual harassment is prohibited by federal law, and in some cases the first step may be to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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