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Sexual assault on the job goes underreported

Some Maryland employees who face sexual violence at work may never report it, according to the advocacy group Futures Without Violence. This may be due to employees not knowing their rights or fearing they will lose their jobs. However, even undocumented immigrants are protected against sexual harassment in the workplace.

A Colorado resort had to pay over $1 million in damages after it failed to act in response to reports of attempted rapes against its housekeeping staff by a supervisor. In that case, the man responsible also eventually faced criminal charges. Other women have reported similar experiences. One woman told her supervisor at a restaurant when a cook tried to attack her in an empty kitchen. She says the supervisor responded that he had many applications for people who wanted to work there. The general counsel of Futures Without Violence said she found herself in a similar situation once and did not report it because she was concerned about losing her job.

The situation is not confined only to women. A prosecuting attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that nearly 20 percent of these cases involve men who face sexual harassment on the job.

People who feel they are being sexually harassed at work might want to speak with an attorney to discuss whether what they are subject to counts as sexual harassment and how they might best approach their employer. It is usually a good idea to document incidents as they happen including the date and time. People might feel unable to report an incident if the harasser is their supervisor, or they might report it and face retaliation such as wrongful termination. Workers are also protected from harassment by people outside the company such as customers.

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