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Study finds harassment more likely to impact minority women

A recently published study shows that black women are more likely to be sexually harassed than white women. Researchers based their conclusion on roughly 20 years of data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Furthermore, researchers found that there was a link between unemployment rates and sexual harassment claims. When unemployment rates went up, harassment claims in California and elsewhere went up as well.

Between 1997 and 2016, the number of sexual harassment claims went down by 40%. However, most of the decrease was experienced by white women. Researchers say that this is because they are seen as more powerful in the workplace. It was noted that sexual harassment tends to be rooted in an effort for one group to assert power over others. This is partially why the number of harassment complaints go up when individuals feel less secure about their place within an organization.

In 2016, a black woman was 3.4 times more likely to report an incident of sexual harassment compared to a white woman. In 1997, black women were only 1.7 times more likely to report an incident of sexual harassment compared to a white woman. It is thought that woman of color are less likely to report harassment overall, which is why they may be targeted more often.

Individuals who are the target of jokes, comments about their body or requests for sexual favors may be victims of sexual harassment. An employer can be held liable for such harassment even if a manager or owner wasn't aware that it was taking place. A victim may be entitled to compensation if the harassment is deemed to constitute a hostile working environment. Legal counsel may help a worker establish that the harassment was cruel or pervasive in nature.

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