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Most workplace sexual violence attributed to nonauthority figures

Both men and women in Missouri might experience sexual harassment in the workplace. One study found that sexual harassment affected 1 in 18 women and 1 in 40 men. Authority figures, like supervisors, managers and owners, were not the only people responsible for harassing employees. Co-workers, customers and clients frequently represent the sources of unwanted sexual verbal harassment, sexual contact or assault. Researchers who surveyed victims asked them whether authority or nonauthority figures had harassed them. Among women, harassers were twice as likely to be nonauthority figures than people with direct power over them at work.

When the researchers collected information from people who has experienced sexual violence, a subset of them had been victims of people from their workplaces. Among respondents to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 5.6% of women and 2.5% of men knew their attackers from work. Roughly 4% of the women said that nonauthority figures had been responsible compared to 2% of women who suffered from mistreatment at the hands of authority figures. Among men, 2% of them received unwanted attention from nonauthority figures compared to the 0.6% of men who attributed their harassment to authority figures.

Sexual violence within the workplace encompasses conduct such as using force to achieve unwanted penetration, coercing someone into sex and groping. Harassers who expose their sexual body parts or make sexual remarks also meet the definition of sexual violence.

The law specifically protects people from unwanted sexual advances at work, but complaining about sexual harassment can be difficult. The representation of an attorney may help someone overcome an uncooperative or hostile employer. An attorney might communicate the facts about the harassment as well as the harm caused by the conduct. Legal support during arbitration or litigation may allow someone to recover a settlement.

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