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“A Full Blown Epidemic”: It’s Time to Speak up Against Sexual Harassment

Last month, an ABC News-Washington Post poll found 54% of women have been sexually harassed.

68% of those harassed said the harassment occurred at work, and a quarter of these women said their sexual harasser was a man who had influence over their career. 95% of those subjected to sexual harassment said they did not report the incident. In response to the poll, Forbes magazine called workplace sexual harassment a “full blown epidemic.”

Despite many companies touting human resources-developed policies about no tolerance workplaces and so-called encouragement to bring these situations forward, many women are fearful. Fearful of losing their job, becoming an outcast among peers, or being retaliated against by superiors. The list of worries could go on and on.  Maybe this explains why a sexual predator such as Harvey Weinstein was able to intimidate and terrorize even the most in-demand, bankable actresses in Hollywood since at least the 1980s. After all, even as children we’re taught that ‘no one likes a tattletale.’ Now that women are beginning to blow the lid off the frighteningly common occurrences of workplace sexual harassment, sexual assault and even rape, we’re beginning to see that just maybe we women have created a big enough firestorm to finally convince corporate America that it’s time to make workplaces safe from sexual harassment and to bring harassers to justice.

#MeToo a Trending Topic, but Some Still Staying Quiet
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), “Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

For many women, sexual harassment often comes with feelings of guilt and questioning your own judgment. Many women left in Harvey Weinstein’s wake have reported feeling guilty and ashamed and worried that bringing accusations to light might make them seem somehow culpable of wrongdoing. However, the tide seems to be turning now that women are speaking out publicly. The hashtag #MeToo recently became incredibly popular on social media, with women from all over the world sharing that they, too, have been the subject of unwanted sexual advances and harassment from men in the workplace. In just 24 hours, 12 million women had posted #MeToo on Facebook. Forbes is right. This isn’t just a few men taking advantage of women at work and making them feel uncomfortable and frightened. This is a serious problem that for decades has been shoved under the rug because women feel like bringing their accuser to task will essentially ruin their career and even their lives.

If you have been the victim of unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any form of verbal of physical misconduct that was sexual in nature while at work, it’s time to put the law to work for you. The Chicago sexual harassment attorneys at Levin & Perconti want to hear your story. Consultations are completely free and are entirely confidential. Please call us at 312-332-2872 or complete an online consultation request form. If you are more comfortable speaking with one of our 10 female attorneys, please let us know in the ‘additional comments’ section of the request form or when calling us.

You have nothing to lose by coming forward. Now is finally the time.