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Bryant Whitten, LLP

Number of EEOC sexual harassment claims increases in 2018

In the wake of the ongoing #MeToo movement in California and across the nation, the number of sexual harassment claims submitted to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) during fiscal year 2018 increased sharply over the fiscal year 2017. In 2017, 6,696 claims were filed, while the number was 7,609, or about 1,000 more, in 2018.

Interestingly, the percentage of these claims that were made by males dropped to the lowest point it had been since 2010, that is, to 15.9 percent. Thus, while 2018 was not a high-water mark for sexual harassment claims overall, it does seem that women may have been inspired, at least to some degree, to report sexual harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement. The number of reports was the highest since 2012.

Interestingly, the amount of benefits that the EEOC recovered on behalf of workers who made accusations of sexual harassment did hit a high-water mark. The agency reported it had recovered $56.6 million in payouts to employees, which was over $10 million more than 2017's total recovery.

These statistics suggest that more women are becoming willing to report sexual harassment, and authorities are become either more willing or better able to do something about the problem. Employers do, after all, have an obligation to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, even when the harassment is not at the hands of a manager or supervisor.

While some cases can be resolved with the government's help, in many cases, private legal action is also necessary for an employee to get the justice he or she deserves. Initiating this sort of action usually takes the help of an experienced attorney.

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