You may think that sexual harassment and gender wage discrimination are two separate issues. However, they are very much intertwined in workplaces across the country.
How does sexual discrimination impact wage disparity and vice versa?
Scratching the surface of a systemic issue
The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have brought much attention to the widespread problem of sexual harassment in many work environments and have given many women a voice. However, it is still a significant issue, and studies suggest that sexual harassment exacerbates wage disparity in the following ways:
- Sexual harassment impacts a woman’s career advancement, which affects their earnings.
- Women may leave higher-paying jobs to seek a safer work environment.
- Harassment can lead to lower productivity, hurting a woman’s performance and pay.
- Certain male-dominated industries can contribute to both a gender wage gap and an increased likelihood of harassment.
All these factors can lead to further sexual harassment. Women in lower-paying jobs, especially those who are socially vulnerable, are more likely to be sexually harassed and less likely to report due to the fear of:
- Job loss
- Financial insecurity
- Few employment options
Many women who work in service industries where tipping is common may tolerate harassment because their income depends on it. Furthermore, they may not understand their options and legal rights.
If you are being sexually harassed at work, it’s crucial that you report it to a supervisor or your human resources department. Harassment is a form of sexual discrimination according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and you are protected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well as relevant state laws. All employees deserve a safe work environment and equal pay.