By Joi Chaney, Equal Pay Today!
For those saying, “what does sexual harassment have to do with equal pay and women’s economic security?”
While sexual harassment in the workplace can manifest itself as sexual assault or some other violation of local and state law, it is, at the very least, employment discrimination on the basis of sex prohibited by Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Similarly, Title VII as well as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which EEOC also enforces, prohibit wage discrimination on the basis of sex.
As has been noted by #TimesUp activists, one form of discrimination -- harassment -- often exists in concert with other forms of discrimination -- pay discrimination. Underpaid persons are often undervalued in the workplace and vice versa, making them more vulnerable to harassment and discrimination and less likely to report abuse or be believed when they do report. As the EEOC is investigating a claim of sexual harassment, investigators will often find evidence of wage discrimination, something that -- given all we know about the difficulty of uncovering pay discrimination -- might otherwise have gone undetected.
Even in the absence of traditional pay discrimination, sexual harassment can depress wages, economic stability, and professional mobility. One study shows that women who are harassed are 6.5 times more likely to change jobs, even when it is not professionally advantageous to do so. Harassment also exacerbates "voluntary" occupational segregation as some women will seek to avoid careers -- even those that are higher paying -- if they believe those careers or positions would expose them to a hostile work environment. They may embrace instead careers in female-dominated professions that feel safer -- even though they may historically pay less.
So "what does sexual harassment have to do with equal pay?" The answer is: “Everything.” #PayUsMoreTouchUsLess.