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Sexual Harassment in the Tech Industry

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Apr 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

When the topic of sexual harassment is brought up in the workplace, it is not uncommon for people to react in different ways. Some people make jokes about their company's sexual harassment policies, while others are uncomfortable even discussing anything to do with sex or sexual content in the workplace, so they remain quiet.

Regardless how a person feels about sexual harassment workplace policies and topics, one thing is for certain: Sexual harassment occurs in the workplace on a regular basis.

One industry where sexual harassment has remained hidden under the radar for years is the tech industry. Recently, the lid has been blown off one of the biggest secrets the industry has tried to keep under wraps, which is that sexual harassment is prevalent in the industry, largely due to the field being dominated by men.

The sordid details of sexual harassment in this industry has been brought to the public eye by several lawsuits filed by wrongful termination lawyers and nationalized news coverages of several women who worked for various tech firms in Silicon Valley.

Back in January 2016, several of the industry's leading women collaborated on a survey about sexual harassment, aptly named, “Elephant in the Valley.” This survey specifically targeted women in the tech industry with more than 10 years of experience, and focused on those working in Silicon Valley or the California Bay Area.

Based upon the results of over 200 respondents, about 60% reported unwanted sexual advances, of which approximately 65% were made by their supervisors or upper management. 30% of the respondents reported they feared for their safety in the workplace. In addition, the survey discovered almost 70% of women never reported being sexually harassed, simply because they did not want to have it affect their career or wanted to forget the incident ever occurred.

Further, of those that did report it to their company's HR departments, 29% ended up signing non-disparagement agreements, which are legally binding agreements that prevent employees from speaking to the press or general public about the harassment and their employer.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment extends well beyond the workplace, with 90% of the respondents reporting witnessing their coworkers engaging in sexist behaviors at tradeshows, conferences, and other industry events, as well as outside of work.

While women are typically the recipients of sexual harassment in the workplace, there are also incidents which involve men. In fact, out of the more than 7,500 cases filed with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in 2012, 17.8% of the victims were men. However, most men typically are embarrassed to report the harassment, so the actual incidents are believed to be much higher.

Sexual harassment could occur through a variety of conducts and behaviors, such as comments about your clothing, sexist jokes, inappropriate physical touching, making gestures or facial expressions of a sexual nature, and so on. If you feel you have been a victim of sexual harassment in your workplace, it is important to consult with an Atlanta employment lawyer to find out your legal rights and how you should proceed in resolving the matter.

Whether you are still working or were wrongfully terminated, schedule a no-obligation case evaluation and consultation appointment by contacting the law firm of Barrett & Farahany, LLP by calling (404) 238-7299 today.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany and manages the firm's case evaluation team. Because knowledge truly is power, Kathy and the Atlanta employment attorneys on her team regularly consult with and empower potentia...

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