The links between sexual harassment and lower pay

Everyone in Texas faces challenges at work from time to time, but women predominantly experience sexual harassment that can reduce how much they earn. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, power disparities in the workplace could encourage harassment. Unequal pay creates a power disparity, and sexual harassment sometimes causes victims to leave potentially lucrative careers or suffer the consequences of reduced job performance.

A study director from the Institute for Women's Policy Research described how sexual harassment lowers women's lifetime earnings. A phenomenon called occupational segregation places pressure on women to leave hostile industries and seek employment in female-dominated job sectors, where the pay tends to be less. She added that a victim might lose focus at work due to harassment. The perceived inability to meet the demands of the job could reinforce the cultural notion that women do not deserve pay equal to men.

The author of a book about working in the notoriously male-dominated finance industry said that pay disparity promotes unequal company cultures. Consistently underpaid people lose a chance to attain powerful positions, which opens the door to sexual harassment.

Many laws govern the relationship between employers and workers. In addition to having an obligation to prevent sexual harassment, employers also must observe wage and hour laws. When a person detects violations, like the refusal to pay overtime or denial of breaks, a consultation with an attorney could provide information about his or her rights. A lawyer could investigate whether the person's employment designation meets the requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act. If violations can be documented, an attorney could file a formal complaint with regulators and prepare a lawsuit. A settlement pursued by legal action could include compensation for back pay.

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