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Corporate Culture May Contribute to Sexual Harassment

F. Michael Ayaz

Employees in California and across the country continue to suffer from sexual harassment on the job, despite the attention drawn to the issue by the #MeToo movement. One 2018 report found that a greater number of CEOs lost their jobs due to unethical behavior than to financial underperformance. In particular, the #MeToo movement highlighted instances of sexual harassment and workplace discrimination in entertainment, politics and technology, among other industries. Nonetheless, workers continue to deal with unwanted sexual advances and various forms of discrimination, despite high-profile cases and media highlights focusing on the issue.

In many cases, sexual harassment does not simply reflect one person’s bad behavior that goes unchecked. There are corporate structures that are designed to protect companies from lawsuits in employment disputes that also serve to suppress complaints about harassment and discrimination. Nondisclosure agreements may be used to keep employees from disclosing their experiences on the job, even after their cases have been resolved. In other cases, companies may try to meet their responsibilities by offering standardized training on sexual harassment. However, these frameworks may do little to resemble the actual problems that continue to affect workplace culture and performance.

Many advocates emphasize that companies spend large amounts of money in order to limit their legal liability for workplace discrimination and harassment, and those funds may well be better spent to actually minimize harassment. Sexual harassment does not only hurt the victims, after all; one study found that companies lose thousands of dollars in lost productivity when harassment is tolerated in the workplace, in addition to the economic and other damages experienced by targeted workers.

Workers who face unwanted sexual advances on the job may run into a corporate structure that seems to provide few options for accountability. An employment law attorney may help victims of sexual harassment to pursue justice.

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