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Millions of American workers affected by sexual harassment

While media attention has shed a light on sexual harassment and abuse in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere, employees continue to suffer from harassment and unwanted sexual attention on the job. According to a study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, almost 1 out of every 18 women and 1 out of every 40 men has been subjected to sexual harassment in and around their workplaces. These statistics mean that around 10 million Americans could report some form of unwanted sexual contact, harassment or physical sexual assault by a supervisor, client, co-worker or boss, according to researchers.

The study was led by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who highlighted sexual violence as a serious concern for employee safety on the job. The broader term can encompass unwanted sexual experiences like verbal harassment and groping up to rape and sexual assault. The analysis examined data gathered from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence study, which included over 42,000 Americans. Scientists reviewed the research for information about perpetrators and incidents in the workplace as well as the after-effects of workplace harassment and assault.

During the study, 5.6% of women respondents and 2.5% of men said that someone associated with their workplace had committed some form of sexual violence against them, coming from coworkers, clients and supervisors or others with authority. Results indicated that around 1 million women have been raped by a coworker while around 400,000 men were sexually coerced, including 184,000 men who reported being forced to penetrate another person.

Sexual harassment on the job can result in serious, long-term effects, including lasting fear. Victims may hesitate to report the incidents due to threats of retaliation. Workers who have been assaulted or harassed at work may consult with an employment law attorney about their options to seek justice and accountability.

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