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Despite employment law, workplace harassment continues

Virtually everyone wants to feel safe in their place of employment. A safe work environment, free from unwanted attention and physical contact from others, is essential for the well-being and health of all workers in West Virginia. Unfortunately, recent national issues revealed that many women still face harassment in the workplace, even though they are protected from such action under employment law.

Once an important player in the Hollywood movie-making business, Harvey Weinstein was pushed out of the industry when claims of sexual harassment surfaced. The incident spread like wildfire on social media, prompting women across the United States to discuss similar workplace accidents. These women shared more than just harassment claims in common -- many of them were also ignored.

Despite many employers having written policies that address how complaints of sexual harassment should be handled, most claims do not make it much further than human resources. This is an understandably complicated matter with no single factor at blame, and experts believe that many employers simply fail to take these complaints seriously. Victims also fear retaliation, even if it is unintentional, such as assigning the accuser to a different, less desirable position as the claim is investigated.

Employers should take each and every complaint of sexual harassment seriously, and should always follow the written policies they have put in place. However, just because this should happen does not mean that it does. Many victims of workplace sexual harassment face an incredible uphill battle, from disbelieving HR to retaliation. Under West Virginia employment law, victims may file suit if their employers fail to address their complains or retaliate, negatively affecting their employment.

Source: wvpublic.org, "Harvey Weinstein Case Highlights Pitfalls Of Workplace Harassment Claims", Yuki Noguchi, Oct. 16, 2017

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