The cost of taking sexual harassment from a hashtag to the law

Most victims don't report workplace harassment. And when they do, they face costly legal fees, opaque complaints procedures, and health issues.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish WikiTribune, United Kingdom
Source: WikiTribune
The cost of taking sexual harassment from a hashtag to the law - NewsMavens
Women at work, by Tim Gouw via Pexels

Why this story matters:

As the dust of MeToo settles, its becoming clear that reporting sexual harassment at work is complicated, difficult, and can extract a high price in both money and stress.

Fearing this, many victims don’t report their abuse. And when they do, they might end up signing a non-disclosure agreement in return for a payoff.

One problem is that company complaints procedures are often vague or inaccessible to employees, stopping victims from reporting the abuse. 

Another problem is that lawyers in the UK and US often charge high legal fees to carry out a claim. 

But the invisible costs of a sexual harassment claim can cause the most damage. It can impact people physically, much like stress. Over time, exposure to sexual harassment can cause health problems such as PTSD, depression, and sleep disorders.

We've heard a lot about the prevalence of sexual harassment, and which celebrities have had it especially rough. But now it's time to look at the problems associated with reporting sexual harassment at work, and hold companies accountable for streamlining and simplifying the process.

women's issues,work, mental health

Details from the story:

  • The UK's 2010 Equality Act requires all workplaces to have a formal complaints procedure. However, as with the U.S., there is no requirement for specific procedures that address sexual harassment or bullying.
  • Many firms don't charge any money up front, but costs of pursing a work harassment claim can range from $15,000 to $30,000 (€12,200 to €24,400). 
  • Matteo Winkler, an Italian law professor at HEC Paris, said that accusers can face decreased commitment and higher levels of stress after reporting a case.
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