Sexual advances from clients toward California employees often go unreported because victims worry about losing status at work. A survey of working women between 18 and 34 revealed that a full third of them had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Although survey data indicates that the experience is common, actual complaints to employers remain rare. Fears about retaliation such as losing a prestigious account, loss of promotion opportunities and outright dismissal keep most victims silent.
For example, a client who spends millions of dollars with a service provider can wield great power over the account executive, especially a female one. Unwanted sexual advances and requests for sexual favors might feel mandatory to the woman who wants to succeed as the manager of the account. Rebuffing advances might cause the client to ask for a new representative from the company or withdraw business altogether. In either situation, the woman will look like a failure to her employer.
If she does complain to her employer, then the manager or supervisor might remove her from the account. This move might be done in an honest attempt to protect her, but she could still appear incompetent as a result. A woman who toughs it out with a client that makes her feel uncomfortable might feel anxious during every meeting and eventually seek employment elsewhere, which could also serve as a career setback.
When a woman does choose to report a problem to an employer, she might wish to do so with guidance from an attorney. Legal counsel could help her understand what is considered sexual harassment on the job and how the law requires companies to prevent a hostile working environment.