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Study finds workplace harassment may have lasting health effects

In recent months and years, countless stories have emerged that paint a troubling picture of the extent to which people -- often women -- experience harassment in the workplace. In response, many employers have been revising their sexual harassment policies and ramping up their efforts to respond appropriately to complaints.

A recent study could give employers and employees alike even more incentive to address sexual harassment in the workplace and put a stop to it. According to the study, sexual harassment can leave women with lasting health problems.

Long-lasting impact of harassment and trauma

The study involved surveys and clinical data from about 300 women between the ages of 40 and 60. According to researchers, women who reported that they had been sexually harassed at work were more likely to:

  • Experience depressive symptoms
  • Suffer from significant anxiety
  • Develop high blood pressure
  • Have difficulty sleeping

These conditions can take a dramatic toll on people. They could require hospitalization, medication and ongoing therapies and result in strained relationships and missed work, as well.

Limitations of the study

The study is not perfect, though. The sample size was quite small; the clinicians were not able to confirm accounts of sexual harassment; the original intent of the study resulted in the exclusion of many women, which may have impacted the results.

That said, the results are in line with similar studies and are statistically significant.

What does this mean for Houston employers and employees?

Employers and employees should already know that sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful and should be prevented. This study and others like it show just how deeply such behaviors can affect victims, creating that much more pressing to report misconduct and hold accountable any parties that commit or perpetuate harassment.

Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace is not easy task. However, understanding how important it is to prevent such behaviors and take swift action to protect employee rights is a critical first step.

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