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What is the effect of sexual harassment in the workplace?

The effects of sexual harassment in the workplace have a far-reaching impact on everything from your company’s bottom line to employee morale and your reputation.

Sexual harassment has serious financial consequences.

In 2019 alone, the United States received the Equal Opportunities Commission (EEOC), which handled over 7,514 allegations of sexual harassment, resulting in a direct estimate of $68 million.

Of course, these figures do not reflect any relevant legal costs. So even those cases that are not suitable for the plaintiff can still cost your business tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars. However, the cost is usually much higher than the financial cost. Let’s take a closer look at how sexual harassment affects the workplace.

Sexual harassment affects the health of employees.

According to research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, the trauma of sexual harassment has lasting effects on a woman’s health. Women who experienced sexual harassment were almost three times more likely to develop depressive symptoms. In addition, they also experienced debilitating stress reactions, sleep disturbances, high blood pressure, low self-esteem, and nausea.

Sexual harassment affects employee productivity.

Toxic workplaces impair employee productivity. If an employee becomes a victim of sexual harassment or, worse, a constant harassment campaign, it will affect their productivity. Research strongly links sexual harassment to job dissatisfaction and (opens in a new tab) Other ways in which sexual harassment affects the workplace are delays, absenteeism, project abandonment, and employee distraction.

Deloitte research estimates that lost productivity due to sexual harassment is $2.62 billion. (Opens in a new tab) A study of 262 women who reported harassment found that 75% of them felt that the consequences of harassment undermined their work. In particular, these women reported a reduced motivation to work and an inability to concentrate on work due to the presence of sexual overtones.

Sexual harassment affects the mental health of workers.

Studies show that employees who experienced bullying in the workplace were more likely to experience poorer psychological and physical well-being. The driving factors for this mental and physical charge were empathy for the victim, concern for a hostile workplace and even the fear of becoming the next target of harassment.

Sexual harassment affects employment and retention.

Another aspect of how sexual harassment affects the workplace is that replacing passing employees can be just as problematic. The EEOC found in a previous survey that 58% of respondents who had witnessed “injustice” in the workplace in the past year would “somewhat” discourage potential employees from joining the company.

Sexual harassment affects the brand.

Research shows that when consumers testify or learn about “rudeness” directed at an employee in the workplace, these potential clients may experience negative generalizations that reduce the likelihood that they will buy from the company. The survey also found that employees who experienced “unfair” jobs would actively discourage potential customers from purchasing products or services from their employers.

What can you do?

One of the key measures to prevent and prevent harassment in the workplace is an effective anti-bullying training course. The Supreme Court decision sets a clear precedent that businesses can reduce the risk of liability by establishing a sexual harassment reporting and education policy. Additionally, the EEOC released a study on workplace harassment that stated, “Training is a critical component of anti-harassment efforts (opens in a new tab)”. Finally, the Department of Justice has also made it clear that training programs that go beyond the “checkbox” are essential to demonstrate its commitment to preventing harassment.


The effects of sexual harassment in the workplace and related litigation can be a clear threat to your business. By establishing proactive and strong policies and providing comprehensive sexual harassment prevention training, you can also reduce the likelihood of sexual harassment in the workplace.