EEOC announces progress on sexual harassment

Sakkas Cahn & Weiss

The #MeToo movement appears to be having a real impact in the workplace and in the justice system. The EEOC reports a significant uptick in reports of sexual harassment over the last year, with more of those victims seeing positive outcomes when they come forward.

There is also evidence that male executives and co-workers are changing their behaviors. Sexual harassment is still a reality for many women, but there’s progress.

More harassment complaints filed and prosecuted

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims progress across the board:

  • After declining for several years, allegations of sexual harassment filed with the EEOC jumped 12 percent from fiscal year 2017 to FY 2018.
  • The EEOC found reasonable cause in 1,200 of those cases, an increase of 23 percent.
  • Of those, there were 500 conciliations (out-of-court resolutions), a 43 percent increase.
  • The EEOC filed 41 sexual harassment lawsuits in fiscal year 2018, an increase of 50 percent over the prior year.
  • In those cases, the EEOC recovered $70 million on behalf of victims, a major increase.

More women are reporting, and their cases are being taken seriously. Harassers and employers are being held accountable. That is progress.

Behaviors are (slowly) changing

There has been some backlash against the #MeToo movement. Men who fear being falsely accused may avoid any interaction with female co-workers. Even some women say the definition of harassment has been stretched to extremes.

But overall, the #MeToo movement is having the desired effect. More women are reporting sexual harassment that in the past they might have endured in silence. More men are changing their own behavior and calling out their peers when they behave badly.

But of course there is a long way to go. Women in male-dominated workplaces or traditionally male occupations are still frequently targeted. The problem hasn’t gone away. If you think you have been the victim of sexual harassment at work, you must report it to your supervisor or HR representative. A lawyer can help you document the harassment and guide you through the legal process.

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