7 in 10 who report sexual harassment face retaliation, new Time's Up study finds

Kim Willis, USA TODAY
·3 mins read
7 in 10 who report sexual harassment face retaliation, new Time's Up study finds
7 in 10 who report sexual harassment face retaliation, new Time's Up study finds

Reporting #MeToo harassment is just the start of the battle.

Seven in 10 people (72%) who report sexual harassment faced some form of retaliation, including termination, lawsuits for defamation and denied promotions, according to "Coming Forward," a new study by the National Women’s Law Center, which looked at the experiences of workers who sought help from the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund. Nearly 2 in 5 (37%) said there were no consequences for their harasser.

Startlingly, one-third of workers (36%) said they experienced physical harassment, sexual assault, or rape. More than one in seven people (15%) were threatened with legal action, job loss, or physical harm if they revealed their harassment.

The analysis is based on 3,317 requests for legal help submitted to Time's Up between Jan. 1, 2018, and April 30, 2020.

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Participants march against sexual assault and harassment at the #MeToo March in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Nov. 12, 2017.
Participants march against sexual assault and harassment at the #MeToo March in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Nov. 12, 2017.

“The findings reveal the courage it takes for people to come forward and report the harassment and abuse they’re experiencing in the workplace,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center and a co-founder of the Time's Up fund, in a statement. “Repeatedly, survivors endured abuse and once they rebuffed advances or reported it, many were fired, careers were destroyed, some became homeless – and too often, harassers got promotions.

"This brutal reality sounds an alarm to legislators and policymakers across the country: Until harassers are held accountable, workplaces will remain unsafe for everyone.”

Other findings of the report:

• More than half of the workers (56%) who identified their harasser indicated the perpetrator was their supervisor.

• More than a third (36%) of those experiencing retaliation said they were fired, and nearly 1 in 5 (19%) said they received bad performance evaluations or were scrutinized in the workplace.

• More than 1 in 5 (22%) said harassment hurt their economic well-being. Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) said the harassment damaged their long-term mental health.

• Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) said they were subjected to multiple forms of harassment. For example, for sex, race and disability.

• Nearly 1 in 9 (11%) said they reported the harassment to police.

In a statement, Tina Tchen, president and CEO of the Time's Up Foundation, called it "outrageous" that harassment and assault remain so prevalent in the workplace but found the response of survivors inspiring.

In another Time's Up study, she noted, "four in five women say they’d report sexual harassment if it happened to them – even in the midst of this economic crisis since the pandemic."

"If one thing’s clear, it’s that we’re never going back to the days where sexual harassment will remain hidden in the shadows – and that’s a good thing.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Time's Up study: 7 in 10 who report sexual harassment face retaliation