The need for strong workplace anti-harassment laws in Virginia is more urgent than ever. Workplace harassment is a widespread problem, affecting workers in every state, in every kind of workplace and industry, and at every level of employment. However, low-paid workers—two-thirds of whom are women in Virginia—are especially at risk of harassment given the stark power imbalances they experience at work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated these conditions. The pandemic has unleashed an economic recession that is hitting women hardest, with especially high levels of job loss for Black women and Latinas. Women—disproportionately Black women—are also 66% of front-line workers in Virginia risking their lives in low-paid jobs. Without a safety net or optimism about their chances of finding another job, workers are more desperate to keep a paycheck at any cost and less willing to report workplace abuses, increasing their vulnerability to harassment, discrimination, exploitation, abuse, and retaliation at work.