While sexual harassment against workers in New Jersey is unlawful, many employees are afraid to report mistreatment because of the threat of retaliation. Many organizations have encouraged victims to come forward, but workers’ concerns are often well-founded. In fact, almost three-quarters of workers who reported sexual harassment faced retaliation. The National Women’s Law Center reported that 72% of victims experienced serious problems, including denied promotions, terminations and even lawsuits accusing them of defamation.

Many complainants faced severe retaliation

The study examined the experiences of sexual harassment victims who reached out to the Times Up Legal Defense Fund for support, and many of the cases involved very severe forms of retaliation. Of the respondents, 36% said that they had experienced some form of physical harassment or violence, including sexual assault or rape. Another 15% were threatened with losing their jobs or being physically harmed if they spoke up about the sexual harassment. In addition, 37% of respondents said that their harassers were never held accountable for their actions.

Psychological and financial consequences

Researchers urged greater protection for workers who report workplace harassment and penalties for companies that fail to take action. Over half of those who participated in the study said that the person harassing them was a supervisor, and a full 36% reported being fired after reporting the sexual misconduct. Another 19% reported that they received negative performance evaluations and other forms of negative attention, which impacted their pay and opportunities following their complaints, while 22% said that they suffered negative financial consequences as a result. Nineteen percent reported mental health harms.

Sexual harassment can seriously hurt employees who are targeted for unwanted advances, especially when retaliation follows. If you have been subjected to harassment on the job, an employment law attorney may provide advice and representation to help you seek justice and accountability.