According to research conducted by Vanderbilt economist, Joni Hersch, American companies have few incentives to eliminate the risks of workplace sexual harassment. While companies routinely work to eliminate workplace safety risks to avoid burdensome penalties and fines, the same is not true when it comes to the elimination of workplace sexual harassment risks.
Companies facing a workplace sexual harassment claim will be exposed to financial risks in the form of litigation costs, loss of worker productivity, compensation costs, and higher employee turnover rates. However, unlike in workplace safety claims, the government does not impose penalties or fines when workplace sexual harassment takes place.
Job Safety Risks
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposes fines and other penalties with respect to job safety risks, but not with respect to sexual harassment or discrimination risks found in the workplace. For this reason, companies focus first on eliminating workplace safety risks, which are highly regulated by both state and federal government agencies. Safety risks are highly visible to the market, which can lead to higher pay for higher risk work in contrast to the hidden nature of sexual harassment or discrimination risks.
Another key factor that leads companies to take safety risks more seriously than the risk of sexual harassment is the underreporting of sexual harassment claims by the victims. Estimates show that over 90 percent of sexual harassment victims fail to report the harassment due to fear of retaliation. Underreporting of sexual harassment claims has led some companies to undervalue the significance of the risk. Along with fatalities and job injury, workers consistently have ranked sexual harassment as one of the working conditions they are most concerned about despite the underreporting of workplace sexual harassment claims.
The research concluded that the costs to companies for dealing with charges of sexual harassment filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provide insufficient incentives for companies to eliminate the risks of sexual harassment in the workplace. With little incentive to stop workplace sexual harassment from taking place, many workers remain at risk. Recent social movements, including the MeToo movement or the Times Up Legal Defense Fund, are working to eliminate the underreporting of sexual harassment claims in the workplace. These social movements hope to provide greater incentives, such as the negative impact on a company’s reputation, to end sexual harassment in the workplace.
Philadelphia Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fight for Victims of Sexual Harassment in the WorkplaceIf you have been a victim of workplace sexual harassment, you are not alone. The Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. will guide you through all steps of the litigation process and aggressively defend your rights as a sexual harassment victim. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to serve individuals throughout the surrounding areas. Call us today at 215-569-1999 to schedule a free initial consultation or submit an online inquiry form.