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The struggle to end sexual harassment at work

New York residents may have heard about sexual harassment scandals at large companies like Uber and Sterling Jewelers. These incidents have come to light at a time in which there has been an increased awareness of the phenomenon. Therefore, a person may imagine that companies would do more to prevent such incidents from happening.

In most cases, companies do have internal policies that are aimed at stopping harassment from taking place. However, they may serve as little more than perfunctory gestures. In fact, those who come forward with allegations of sexual harassment may be as likely to face punishment as those who are alleged to have committed the act. Businesses that run sexual harassment reporting hotlines may simply use them to find out about potential lawsuits and scare victims from pursuing them further.

Those who report harassment may be subject to an internal resolution process. This means that victims must seek justice from within the company, which could make it harder to seek any meaningful resolution. For some companies, sexual harassment policies are created to protect the business from a lawsuit more than they are meant to protect employees. To enact real change, companies may want to outsource sexual harassment investigations to third-parties that have no direct tie to the company or interest in the outcome of the case.

Workers who are subject to unwelcome sexual advances may wish to take legal action. If successful, victims may be entitled to compensation from their employers or others who may be responsible for the harassing behavior. Those who were fired because they reported such harassment may also be entitled to reinstatement to their former position with full pay and benefits. Legal counsel may be able to help gather evidence to verify a worker's account of workplace sexual harassment.

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