Image a sexual harassment victim. If you are like many people, the first person that comes to mind is a young woman in a traditionally “feminine” outfit such as a skirt or dress. Sexual harassment happens to women and men of all ages, ethnicities, and lifestyles. By no means is the problem limited to what we think of as “feminine” women.
However, a recent study suggests that sexual harassment claims are perceived as less credible or less severe when the victim is a woman who does not fit traditional female stereotypes. The study has significant implications and reminds each of us that workplace sexual harassment is still a serious, ongoing problem in Illinois and across the U.S.
Victims’ Appearances May Influence Sexual Harassment Claims
One of the most important components of the #MeToo movement was the assertion that not all sexual harassment and sexual assault victims are the type of people you would expect. Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment. Anyone can be a perpetrator of sexual harassment. In fact, an estimated one in five workplace sexual harassment complaints are filed by men.
Unfortunately, the results of a recent study show that a victim’s gender, gender expression, and even clothing choices can influence their perceived credibility in a sexual harassment case. The study, which was conducted by the University of Washington, evaluated participants’ perceptions about sexual harassment victims. They were asked about the “type” of women who would and would not be victims of sexual harassment.
The results showed a clear pattern: Women who fit the stereotypical idea of a woman were more likely to be seen as victims of sexual harassment. When asked to draw pictures of sexual harassment victims, most participants drew women with long hair, make-up, and “feminine” clothing. Women with less conventional appearances were perceived as less credible and less harmed by the harassment.
Standing Up Against Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is unlawful and unethical. Every worker deserves to be free from sexual harassment -regardless of their gender or appearance. If you have been harassed or discriminated against at work, or if you were retaliated against after reporting sexual harassment, contact a sexual harassment lawyer for legal guidance. You may be entitled to back pay and other damages.
Contact a Wheaton Sexual Harassment Lawyer
At MKFM Law, we understand that sexual harassment is still a major problem in Illinois. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights of sexual harassment victims. To learn how we can help you, contact our DuPage County sexual harassment attorneys today. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation.