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Sexual Harassment Part 5: Sexual Harassment in the White-Collar Workplace

Posted by Kira Fonteneau | Jun 07, 2019 | 0 Comments

Previously, we have discussed sexual harassment in the medical industry, hospitality industry, retail industry, and manufacturing industry. Today, we are not going to focus on a particular industry, but on those who typically work in a professional office environment. Another term commonly used to describe this area would be the “white-collar” workplace.

For some industries, this could mean only the upper management and HR departments of an organization, such as would be the case in industries where most of the employees are blue-collar workers. There are other industries, however, where virtually everyone in the organization is a white-collar worker.

According to a Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) study that was published by Variety Magazine in 2018, the white-collar industries with the highest incidents of sexual harassment are:

  • Media: 41% of women and 22% of men report being sexually harassed in the media industry.
  • Technology & Communications: 37% of women and 12% of men report being sexually harassed in technology and communications.
  • Consulting: In the field of consulting and management, 36% of women and 20% of men report being sexually harassed.
  • Health Care & Social Assistance: 35% of women and 14% of men have been sexually harassed in this industry.
  • Architecture, Engineering, & Aerospace: 32% of women and 16% of men have been sexually harassed in the architecture, engineering, and aerospace industry.
  • Pharmaceuticals and Other Scientific Research: 27% of women in 17% of men who work in the field of scientific research report having been sexually harassed.
  • Financial Services: Although it has one of the lowest rates of sexual harassment among white collar industries, one of the widest gender disparities exists within the banking, finance, and insurance industry. In this industry, 26% of women and just 7% of men report having been sexually harassed.
  • Legal Services: The legal industry is similar to financial services, with 22% of women and just 7% of men having been sexually harassed.

Here are some other noteworthy findings from the CTI study:

  • 72% of the women who are sexually harassed in white-collar workplaces experience harassment from a supervisor or colleague who is more senior in their career;
  • 57% of men who experience sexual harassment are harassed by other men;
  • The vast majority of women who experience sexual harassment are harassed by men, and Hispanic and white women are the most likely targets (37% for each group);
  • Sexual harassment in the white-collar workplace seems to cut pretty evenly across generational lines. Overall, 23% of millennials, 24% of Gen-Xers, and 25% of Baby Boomers have been sexually harassed by a colleague.

Sexual Harassment in the Media

In 2017, the #MeToo movement triggered by sexual abuse allegations against powerful Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein launched a wave of sexual harassment and abuse charges at various media and entertainment companies. Dozens of high-profile personalities were exposed and forced to resign in the wake of these charges. Some examples include Bill O'Reilly, Matt Lauer, and Charlie Rose.

The results of the CTI study confirmed that these high-profile harassment and abuse allegations were far from isolated incidents. Among all white-collar workplaces, the media and entertainment industries do indeed have the highest percentage of both women and men who have experienced sexual harassment.

Experts believe that sexual harassment is so widespread in the media and entertainment industries because there is a wider power imbalance than in most other workplaces. These are relationship-driven industries in which there are a select few gatekeepers who have the power to make or break a career. 

For many aspiring journalists, television personalities, and actors, the stakes are very high, and the success or failure of a career is often in the hands of one or two people. Under these types of conditions, it is no wonder that so many women were afraid to come forward before the #MeToo movement began.

Have you Been Harassed in the Workplace? Speak with an Experienced Employment Law Attorney

Sexual harassment may be more widespread in some industries than others, but sadly, it happens all too often in all types of workplaces. Whether you are a white-collar or blue-collar worker, if you have been sexually harassed at work, you do not have to tolerate or “live with” this situation.  There is legal relief available, which may include monetary damages.

For nearly 15 years, attorney Kira Fonteneau has fought for those in Alabama who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. She can meet with you to discuss your case and advise you of your rights and legal options. For a confidential consultation with attorney Fonteneau, call our office today at (404) 383-5720. You may also message us through our online contact form.

About the Author

Kira Fonteneau

Partner and Managing Attorney of the Alabama Trial Practice Group at Barrett & Farahany Kira Fonteneau is a partner and the managing attorney of the Alabama trial group of Barrett & Farahany. Kira chose to specialize in employment law because she wanted to help employees take back power. ...

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