While no California industry is completely free of sexual harassment, research suggests that this type of treatment is more common in work environments that share certain elements in common. While the #MeToo movement has helped make some employees feel more comfortable coming forward about the sexual harassment they experience, many employees who face this treatment still neglect to speak out about it due to fears of retaliation, termination and other possible repercussions.
Per the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, workers face an elevated risk of experiencing work-related sexual harassment if one or more of the following three risk factors exist in their work environments.
1. A dependence on customer satisfaction
Sexual harassment tends to happen more in work environments where employees depend on happy customers to make a living. For example, sexual harassment is often pervasive in restaurants and similar environments where workers must offer “service with a smile” and rely on tips to get by.
2. Significant power disparities
Sexual harassment also occurs more often in work settings that have clear power disparities. Lower-ranking employees are more frequent victims of sexual harassment than higher-ranking supervisors and executives. Gendered power disparities may make sexual harassment even more likely in a particular place of business.
3. A young workforce
Sexual harassment is also pervasive in work environments that have young workforces. This may be due in part to the fact that younger workers may not have a full understanding of what is and is not acceptable in the workplace.
Other environmental factors that may breed sexual harassment include environments that encourage the consumption of alcohol and environments where work is boring and monotonous, among others.