The impact of the #MeToo movement, born of sexual assault charges against men like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, is still being felt in workplaces across Connecticut and the nation.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has regulatory authority in this area and tracks statistics on the problem annually.
In their most recent report, they note a rise of more than 50% (2017 to 2018) in the number of suits brought by the agency alleging workplace sexual harassment.
According to the EEOC, these lawsuits are part of a continuing effort “to protect a wide-range of employees across the entire country, including servers, nurses, administrative assistants, customer service staff, truck drivers, welders, and other workers at cleaners and country clubs, sports bars and airlines, in factories, health care and grocery stores.”
Additionally, the agency reported:
- There were 7,609 charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment in 2018 – an increase of 13.6 percent from fiscal year 2017.
- For charges alleging harassment, reasonable cause findings increased by 23.6 percent to nearly 1,200 in FY 2018.
- EEOC successfully conciliated 498 charges alleging harassment, a 43 percent increase from FY 2017.
- The EEOC recovered nearly $70 million for the victims of sexual harassment through administrative enforcement and litigation in FY 2018, up from $47.5 million in FY 2017.
- In appeals of sexual harassment cases involving federal employees, awards increased by more than 180 percent in FY 2018 to $443,066.
- Hits on the sexual harassment page of the EEOC’s website more than doubled this past year (2018), as many individuals and employers sought information to deal with workplace harassment.
Coincidentally, the EEOC received its first budget increase in over eight years – an increase intended to help the agency deal with the sizable increase in harassment claims.
Given all this data, results from the Gallup organization are cause for concern. According to their latest survey data, “U.S. men are less convinced than they were at the start of the movement that sexual harassment in the workplace is a major problem.”
In 2017, 66% of men felt that workplace sexual harassment was a problem. That number has now fallen to just 54%.
And the data seems to have a partisan twist to it with just 35% of Republican and Republican-leaning men believing the issue is a problem – down from 54% in 2017. The views of Democrat-leaning men remain largely unchanged since 2017.
Women of all persuasions overwhelmingly believe harassment remains a major problem.
Is there a risk in all of this for employers?
If it’s true that some males in the workforce are already viewing sexual harassment as irrelevant or a non-issue, those employees are like a ticking legal timebomb inside any organization. And a potentially expensive one at that.
If you are an employer in Connecticut and need guidance on the topic of sexual harassment, contact the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale. We do one thing and one thing only – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment law and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please contact us if we can help you.
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