Often times, sexual harassment is deemed to be blown out of proportion. However, recent polls have show that 43 percent of males and 81 percent of females have experienced some form of abuse in their lifetime. This data was analyzed by the Center of Gender Equity and Health at the University of California.
Ending sexual harassment starts with legal remedies that punish the offender and encourage victims to report abuse. Many people do not know they are in abusive situations, so educating and awareness is vital in identifying this type of behavior. Sexual harassment laws in Los Angeles state that it is illegal for an employer to harass employees.
Types of Harassment
A person may not realize harassment is even taking place, but it can come in many forms. Sexual harassment can include:
- Unwanted physical contact
- Verbal and non-verbal sexual advances
- Sexist remarks
- Homophobic slurs
- Sexual assault
More than three out of four females have been verbally harassed. The CDC closely monitors sexual violence against males and females. Studies show that victims suffer from depression and anxiety. Abuse is often experienced starting at an early age. This type of behavior is recalled most prevalently between the ages of 14 to 17 years old.
Industries Where Sexual Harassment is Most Prevalent
Unfortunately, every industry has had problems with sexual harassment. In recent years, sexual harassment in the entertainment industry has received attention from the press and TV news outlets. However, sexual harassment is more pervasive in some industries than in others. The Center for American Progress reports that women in low-wage service jobs and industries where men traditionally outnumber women are more likely to encounter sexual harassment in their workplace. In these industries, women of color are most often susceptible to sexual harassment.
Which Industries Have the Highest Occurrence of Sexual Harassment
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) studied sexual harassment charges it received over the period of 2005 through 2015. Accommodation and food services workers filed the highest percentage of charges of sexual harassment with the EEOC (14.23%). This industry, which accounts for 7.2 percent of the American workforce, includes restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels. Workers in this industry are wait staff and housekeepers who work not only for wages but also for tips. Such workers experience harassment not only from managers and coworkers but also from customers. Though these are typically low wage jobs, women remain in them in spite of the sexual harassment they experience because the tips are an important source of their income.
In descending order, the percentages of charges of sexual harassment against the following industries were also very high: retail trade, manufacturing, and healthcare and social assistance. Charges of sexual harassment at the EEOC were lowest in the following industries: mining, utilities, agriculture, and management of companies and enterprises. However, we cannot conclude that the absence of charges filed with the EEOC signals an absence of sexual harassment in a particular industry. While the charges of sexual harassment at the EEOC against the entertainment industry were not among the highest overall, a study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that 41% of women in media and entertainment say they have been sexually harassed by a coworker or supervisor at some point in their careers. This same study found that sexual harassment in the financial sector had the lowest rate of reports by women. Workers such as janitors, domestic care workers, hotel workers, and agricultural workers labor in isolated spaces (outside of the presence of witnesses). This makes them particularly vulnerable to harassers who believe they’ll never be caught in the act.
Workers without lawful residency status (undocumented workers) are commonly found in low wage jobs in agriculture, food processing, and garment factories. They fear reporting harassment because of the belief that it may jeopardize their immigration status. In industries where women are in the minority, such as construction, they are also vulnerable to sexual harassment: About six in ten women in construction report being touched or asked for sex. Law enforcement — a historically male career path — also has problems with sexual harassment. The Los Angeles Police Department paid out several million dollars to a female officer after male officers exposed their genitalia to her and excluded her from training opportunities and the one male officer who defended her. Professors from Harvard and Tel Aviv University concluded that harassment flourishes in workplaces where few women hold the core jobs, even where women are in positions of authority and are high on the company ladder. Women are also susceptible to sexual harassment in industries where there are significant power differentials between women and their male coworkers who are “rainmakers” (high earners for the business, law partners with many high-paying clients). Such rainmakers believe they may with impunity harass the women they work because of their perceived importance to the business.
According to California state regulations, sexual harassment is defined as unwarranted physical, verbal, non-verbal, and visual sexual misconduct. Bullying can take place at:
- Socially, such as at a party or public establishment
Two main areas of law are civil and workplace harassment. Statutory law states that harassment is unlawful violence that is sexual in nature like battery, assault, and stalking. There has to be a credible threat of abusive behavior. Credible threat violence means a person perpetrates unwanted contact that makes the victim feel reasonably afraid for their safety.
This inappropriate conduct can exist in different types of relationships. For example, a distant relative, such as an aunt or uncle, roommate, or neighbor may exhibit abusive sexual behavior. You may want to get a restraining order or take further steps in reporting an incident. A sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles can give you confidential legal advice on this matter.