Recent accusations of sexual harassment against a former FBI field boss in upstate New York, once again, bring this issue into the spotlight. It is an issue that has hovered over every generation of women in the workplace. And it seems that the only way the predators learn is through lawsuits and public shaming.
In this matter, special agent James Hendricks was implicated after the Office of Inspector General – an investigatory arm of the U.S. Department of Justice – determined that he sexually harassed eight female subordinates – six in Albany, New York, and two at FBI headquarters in Washington. According to a federal report, Hendricks ogled women, inappropriately touched them and even asked one to have sex with him in a conference room. As with many sexual harassment cases, the victims did not report the incidents, fearing reprisal.
Up to 35% of women sexually harassed in workplace
It is disheartening to know that such behavior continues in the workplace, and, in this case, that the sexual predator – who quietly retired last year – did so with full benefits and without punishment.
Three separate 2017 surveys pertaining to sexual harassment in the workplace show just how pervasive it is. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 22% of the women disclosed that they had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
Higher numbers were reported in similar surveys later that year from different organizations. For example, an ABC News/Washington Post survey found that 30% of the women received unwanted sexual advances at work. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll disclosed that 35% of women were victims of sexual harassment or abuse in the workplace.
It is difficult for victims of sexual harassment to come forward. They fear for their jobs and careers, and, sometimes, feel that they must tolerate such boorish and illegal behavior. They should not. Seeking insight from a legal advocate is one of the best things that victims can do.