Can Sexual Harassment Victims Stay Anonymous?
More than 80 percent of women and 40 percent of men report experiencing sexual harassment at work. Sexual harassment is an illegal form of employment discrimination that causes complicated emotions — anger, embarrassment, confusion, anxiety and more. Concerns about reporting the harassment and fear of retaliation are common, and often keep victims of sexual harassment from making a complaint.
With this in mind, many would prefer to report incidents of sexual harassment without divulging their name and still have their allegation be fully investigated. Is it possible for a victim of sexual harassment to stay anonymous through the reporting process?
The short answer is sometimes, but it is complicated.
Policies and protocols for reporting sexual harassment vary from company to company. Some allow anonymous reporting, and others do not.
The Case for Anonymity
Under ideal circumstances, the employer takes a strong stance against sexual harassment and has a clear plan in place for employees to report it so it can be adequately addressed. If the employer allows anonymous reporting, this may be done through one of the various apps, a hotline or another service available for this purpose.
Anonymous reporting helps employees feel more comfortable coming forward when there is an issue with harassment. It also increases early reporting, so that harassment issues can be dealt with before they become a much bigger problem. When the harasser is a person of power or influence within the company, there is an extra layer of fear surrounding reporting. Making an anonymous complaint is sometimes the most effective way to encourage reporting in these cases.
Investigating Anonymous Complaints
Once an employer is made aware of a sexual harassment claim, they legally must take quick action to stop it. One potential problem with anonymous reporting, however, is that the employer only has the information provided to go on when it begins to look into it. If there were insufficient details provided in the complaint, such as where the harassment happened, what was involved, who witnessed it, and more, they may not be able to thoroughly investigate and stop it. Some companies prefer to interview anyone involved with the report to get their stories.
Whether an employee can remain fully anonymous through the reporting process or not, confidentiality should be an important priority for safety and security. Even if the identity of the person who made the complaint is known, they are legally protected from retaliation for making a complaint.
Strong Advocates Can Help
The employment attorneys at Strong Advocates are ready to help anyone who has been subjected to sexual harassment and assault at work get the justice they deserve. Schedule a confidential consultation by calling (800) 260-1495.