The Financial Costs and Wage Disparities that Accompany Sexual Harassment

Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Debra Katz spoke with Bloomberg Radio about how sexual harassment in the workplace costs companies money and creates wage disparities. While much attention has been paid to the size of high profile sexual harassment settlements – either very small, like in Congress, or enormous, in the case of Bill O’Reilly – far less consideration has been given to the financial costs of sexual harassment on the victims.

First off, most women who experience sexual harassment don’t receive large settlements because they are afraid to come forward and fear becoming a “persona non-grata.”  Often, they simply leave the hostile work environment for a new job, frequently leaving behind a better career opportunity.

Additionally, the relationship between harassment and pay disparity extends far beyond the premature departure of talented women.

“Sexual harassment is about abuse of power,” explains Ms. Katz. “And often power is abused because you do not have women in the c-suite.”

“Because of the great power disparity, you have an environment that’s more likely to allow sexual harassment to continue.”

With regards to human resource professionals, while some are extremely loyal in protecting their companies, many are powerless to act on reports of sexual misconduct.

“Without a tone at the top… HR officials are not given the power that they need to eradicate sexual harassment within their companies.”

Listen to the full interview below, beginning at 21:32.