New York, NY- In a new report from, the Pentagon revealed that they received nearly 1,400 sexual harassment complaints in 2013 and punished 500 military members– many of those punished were repeat harassers.
According to the report, the Pentagon received 1,366 complaints of sexual harassment in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30th, significantly lower than the number of reported sexual assaults— 5,061 cases for the same period. Officials reported that 496 service members in all branches including the National Guard were punished or fired for harassment.
The punishments ranged from minor– pay cuts, letters of reprimand, demotions—to more severe—dismissals and court marshals, the Washington Post reported. The Pentagon also acknowledges that there are repeat offenders among the ranks.
Much like the civilian workplace, women were more often the targets of sexual harassment. The report stated that the majority of complainants where youngers women with lower rank and their harassers were men on in the same unit with a higher rank. Most of the incidents took place on a military base.
The Pentagon acknowledged that the figure is low and guaranteed they would take make changes to their policies in order to assure sexual harassment victims feel comfortable coming forward with allegations.
“We want a climate where everybody reports whenever they’re offended,” one official said in a DOD report.
The report focused on sexual harassment, which is considered gender discrimination, whereas previous reports focused on sexual assaults. Though the Pentagon looked at both issues separately for this and previous reports, they found a correlation between the two. According to 2012 DOD report, 30 percent of women and 19 percent of men who were sexually assaulted reported that prior to their assault, their harasser had previously sexually harassed them, the Stars and Stripes reported.
Most of the complainants reported offensive verbal harassment, but 40 percent involved unwanted sexual attention, which can include touching, groping and solicitations for sex.
Even if the Pentagon says it will take steps to encourage victims to report sexual harassment and assault, it will most likely always be underreported. It does in the civilian workplace.
Even when an employer, the military included, has effective policies in place, some victims of sexual harassment are reluctant to come forward. The reasons may vary, maybe they don’t want to start trouble or maybe they may think their employer won’t believe their allegations. Many victims fear that by complaining about sexual harassment their bosses or coworkers will take retaliatory actions and punish them instead of the harasser.
No employee should think they have to just tolerate sexual harassment because they have strong legal protections. An employer must take actions that stop and punish a person who has sexually harassed a coworker and if they fail to a sexual harassment attorney will hold them accountable.
Sexual harassment victims suffer both physically and emotionally and often leave their jobs as a result of unaddressed misconduct. But when they retain a sexual harassment attorney, they can have the confidence they will be compensated for their troubles.