One Powerful Thing We Can Do to Increase Safety and Health

When I ask employees why they want to report harassment or pursue lawsuits against their employers for discrimination, the most common response I hear is, “I don’t want this to happen to someone else.” Employees who report feel tremendous responsibility to protect other people like them from experiencing the burden and stress of abuse.

But, when faced with the reality of how much worse things could get if they stand up publicly against a harasser and an employer who both seem so much more powerful than them, many employees reasonably are not willing to sacrifice their own safety for the mere possibility that it might protect their community.

Within the law, there are some protections for people who are willing to come forward to report crimes that are considered stigmatizing like those involving sexual misconduct. For example, the adults who reported being molested as children by predators in organizations like the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America were able to do so because they could file cases under pseudonyms like “John Doe” and “Jane Doe.” Many have been too afraid of retaliation against themselves and their families to use their legal names, and would otherwise have decided not to go forward with cases that have created more safety in our communities. When someone is the victim of a sexual crime, and they are forced to have their name associated with it, often the community perceives there is something wrong with that person, even though, in fact, they did nothing wrong. This is particu