Only 1 in 4 women who have been sexually harassed tell their employers. Here’s why they’re afraid

Document Type

Blog Post

Journal Title

The Conversation U.S.

Publication Date



On May 30, a grand jury indicted Harvey Weinstein on charges he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex on him. And new allegations and lawsuits against the movie producer continue to pile up.

Since the earliest reports of his abuse came out in October, scores of women in Hollywood have taken to social media and shared their own stories of sexual assault and harassment by Weinstein. And thanks to the #MeToo movement, women in a range of professions have also found their voices heard, helping topple dozens of other once-powerful men in entertainment, media, sports, business, politics and the judiciary.

But a question #MeToo has been asking since the beginning is how will this affect the lives of women far from the high-powered worlds of Hollywood and Washington. Is this making it any easier for a low or mid-wage worker in middle America to rid her workplace of a sexual harasser?

One important way of doing this is by making an official complaint to the employer. But while women will often complain to family or even on social media, most don’t tell their companies of the misconduct. In fact, barely 1 in 4 ever do.

How come?

Based on experience litigating sexual harassment cases as well as my research, I have determined there are three legal barriers that stand in the way of workers filing complaints – a critical step to rooting out harassment and protecting employees.