Senators Call For Government to Study Economic Impacts of Workplace Sexual Harassment
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by Countable | 1.31.18
What’s the story?
What is the economic cost of sexual harassment in the workplace? No one has ever attempted to find out, but now twenty-two senators want the Department of Labor to try.
According to Buzzfeed, a group of senators led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent a letter to Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and Bureau of Labor Statistics Acting Commissioner William J. Wiatrowski requesting that the Department beginning compiling data on the economic effects of sexual harassment.
They noted independent studies which have found that women who suffer workplace sexual harassment are likely to experience mental and physical health effects. They are also more likely to change or leave jobs in order to avoid hostile and dangerous work environments, which effects their potential earning capacity over their lifetime.
The senators point to studies that estimate at least 30 percent of working women experience workplace sexual harassment, or 33 million women across America.
The costs do not, they say, simply fall to the employee either:
"When a worker changes jobs or industries, there are costs for the employer as well as the worker…employers have to cover replacement costs for a new worker…Moreover, it is a loss to society. Right now, we do not know how many gifted workers and innovators were unable to contribute to our country because they were forced to choose between working in a harassment-free workplace and their career.”
The senators note that, despite independent studies, there has been no "exact accounting of the extent of this discrimination and the magnitude of its costs on the labor force", which would allow them to formulate policy to adequately address this widespread problem.
There has been no official response from the Department of Labor to the letter.
What do you think?
Should the Department of Labor compile data on the economic effects of workplace sexual harassment? What policies would you like to see enacted on the federal level to address this issue?
Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army / Creative Commons)
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