Study: Women Still Face Retaliation For Reporting Sexual Harassment


Posted by: Chris

There’s no doubt that the #MeToo movement inspired countless women to speak out about sexual harassment in the workplace. Despite this powerful movement, many women still hesitate to report sexual harassment because they fear retaliation. As it turns out, this could be a rational fear. A new study suggests that female employees may face consequences for reporting sexual harassment.

The Study on Sexual Harassment & Retaliation

A doctoral candidate at Stanford University conducted five trials of a social experiment to determine how reporting sexual harassment could impact the victim’s career. The 200 participants in each trial were divided into five groups. Then, they were asked to pretend that they were managers for a fictional company who needed to decide whether or not they should promote a fictional sales associate, Sarah. 

Four groups of participants were given Sarah’s employee file, which contained information about a male co-worker sexually harassing Sarah. Some groups were told that Sarah reported the sexual harassment herself, whereas others were told that someone else reported it. The fifth group of participants was also given Sarah’s employee file, but the file did not mention anything about sexual harassment. After reviewing the file, the participants were asked to rate how likely they were to promote Sarah on a scale of 1-7, with 7 being “extremely likely.”

The researcher found that sexual harassment reporting did affect the participants’ decisions. The participants’ responses showed that they were less likely to promote Sarah if they believed that she had reported sexual harassment. The participants that were the most likely to promote her were the ones that were not given any information on her history of reporting sexual harassment.

Retaliation in the Real World

The findings of this study are supported by real data provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In 2018, the EEOC reported that 65% of women who reported sexual harassment between 2012 and 2016 had lost their jobs as a result of their decision to file a complaint. 

This study—and this shocking statistic—proves that retaliation is still a major issue in workplaces across the country. Fortunately, the law is on the side of victims of retaliation.

Have you been retaliated against at work? If so, contact Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. at once. Let our experienced attorneys seek justice against your employer for violating your workplace rights. Call us now at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.