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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Undocumented workers afraid to report sexual harassment

Despite laws against it, sexual harassment continues to exist in workplaces throughout California and throughout the country. Coming forward after being harassed can be frightening for some victims. Many worry that they will lose their jobs, be demoted or otherwise be treated unfairly if they choose to speak up about what happened.

Along these lines, a recent article shed light on a group of workers who have a particular disadvantage in this situation: undocumented workers. Although the article focused heavily on migrant farm workers in Florida, the situation can likely be applied to California workers as well.

A survey conducted by a community group and Florida International University asked workers if they had ever been victimized by sexual harassment on the job. Nearly one quarter of respondents said yes. For these women, however, coming forward does not always seem like an option.

Because many of these women are not living in the U.S. lawfully, the threat of deportation may be the biggest concern. When women have children and other family members to support, the risks of coming forward likely do not seem worth it.

According to a member of the community group that helped create the survey, victims who do come forward are often paid off privately and told to sign a contract agreeing to never discuss it.

Unfortunately, it is quite possible that many people in California face a similar work environment. No one deserves to be harassed or taken advantage of, and those who are should know that there are ways to seek justice.

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