Workplace Discrimination – The Hidden Costs of Hidden Harassment

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC, released a report on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. The results highlight the hidden costs that often go uncalculated in an environment of harassment.

Organizations, public and private, would be wise to familiar themselves with the hidden dangers of workplace harassment. Along with retaining professional counsel, it’s imperative that decision makers recognize the factors of harassment, their warning signs as well as the implementation of policy to avoid them.

Harassment as defined by the EEOC, includes not only sexual harassment, by far the most prevalent, but also: disability, religion, age, race, ethnicity and others.

The breakdown of reported harassments by type, equate to the following percentages:

  • 45% sex
  • 34% race
  • 19% disability
  • 15% age
  • 13% national origin
  • 5% religion

The Commission recognizes that the majority of incidents, stemming from harassment, go unreported.

On the surface, unreported instances may seem to not have any consequences, but these hidden forms of harassment do have their costs.


Hidden Harassment – Hidden Costs

Victims of harassment state varying reasons for not reporting; in most cases, they feel that nobody will believe them. Additional responses included: fearing repercussions, not wanting to disrupt the workplace system and assuming that their complaint will negatively affect their career.

From the standpoint of upper-level management and business owners, it’s important to note that these situations have true costs. The accumulation, or lateral consequences, of hidden harassment, will negatively impact the organization as a whole.

Workplace performance, innovation, collaboration and general evolution will suffer in an environment where harassment is left unchecked. It’s for this reason that the EEOC has created a system of checks and balances to minimize and ultimately alleviate workplace harassment.

Recognizing risk factors is at the forefront of any proactive approach. Once that awareness is developed, your organization can create systems for the benefit of everyone involved.


Risk Factors for Harassment

Risk factors create a breeding ground for possible harassment, but they also act as warning signs to prevent unwanted behavior.

Factors that should be considered sensitive areas, include:

  • Homogenous Workforces
  • Power Disparities
  • Isolated Workplaces
  • Decentralized Workplaces

Fortunately, the majority of violations can be avoided. Through a combination of awareness and forward thinking policy, we can ensure that the current standards at your organization are ones that breed compliance and a thriving environment for all.

At Lee, Shome & Kennedy, LLP we base our workplace strategies on years of experience and our detailed understanding of Supreme Court Law. Our attention to detail and client-centered business model allows us to view the issues from your perspective.

Contact us today for an in-depth consultation on your workplace dynamics, any possible risk factors and an actionable plan to avoid future issues.

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