Armstrong & Associates Employment Law Firm

The high price paid by victims of sexual harassment

It has long been apparent that victims of sexual harassment can experience an array of psychological effects, including anxiety and depression, sleep disorders, lowered self-esteem and more. They must often endure job-related costs as well, including termination, demotion, transfers, lost opportunities for advancement and other forms of retaliation.

A study recently published by Time’s Up and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) sought to determine the financial costs of sexual harassment and retaliation for the women and men who experience it. Researchers for “Paying Today and Tomorrow: Charting the Financial Costs of Workplace Sexual Harassment” conducted in-depth interviews with victims and expert stakeholders.

Inside the study

Some of the most important takeaways from the study include:

  • Lifetime costs to victims of sexual harassment and retaliation ranged from more than $125,000 for a fast-food worker forced to quit to $1.3 million for a construction apprentice.
  • Job loss and unemployment due to sexual harassment are commonly components of victims’ costs. Researchers reported that all of those interviewed for the study “experienced at least some loss of work or forced job change.” Lost wage progression and forgone job benefits can translate to a lifetime loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars, as it did for one person interviewed, who experienced a loss of $230,864.
  • Loss of health care insurance and reduced pension and Social Security benefits are also common consequences of harassment and retaliation.
  • Forced career change can necessitate the pursuit of a new degree or credentials – and lost earnings while in pursuit.
  • The consequential costs of sexual harassment and retaliation are particularly severe for those in low-pay positions, where the loss of earnings translated into increased financing costs, lower credit ratings, repossessions, evictions and so on.

Similar situations

Researchers said many of those interviewed for the study cited similar circumstances, including working in physically isolated areas, work in industries dominated by men and in jobs where there were no clear procedures for reporting sexual harassment.

Many who experience sexual harassment and retaliation in Houston workplaces find that legal action can stop the unlawful behavior and result in compensation for damages.


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