Sexual harassment complaints continue to grow

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Many employees in California and across the country continue to face serious problems with sexual harassment on the job. Unwanted sexual advances and other types of inappropriate behavior continue to rise, despite the emergence of the #MeToo movement and widespread media attention on the problem. Indeed, since allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against high-profile Hollywood executives hit major news, the number of federal complaints about sexual harassment on the job has escalated significantly.

In the 2018 fiscal year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 7,609 complaints about sexual harassment in the workplace, an increase of 13.6% over the prior year. At the same time, general reports of workplace discrimination and harassment of all types declined. This means that sexual harassment complaints formed a greater proportion of all federal filings. During the year, workers filed 76,418 complaints of workplace harassment for various protected reasons, making a nearly 10% drop. Surveys also show that more instances of sexual harassment and assault are being reported through internal company procedures as well. Still, EEOC officials said that only around one-fifth of all workers who experience sexual harassment on the job actually file a report. In most cases, people must file an EEOC claim before proceeding to a federal lawsuit for workplace discrimination.

Some people have gained more understanding about what constitutes sexual harassment, given the media attention following #MeToo. In response, more companies have expanded training to improve response to harassment issues. Better informed workers are more likely to report harassment.

Sexual harassment continues to hinder the careers of many workers, especially women. It can affect people in all types of jobs, including women in high-powered careers in technology. Someone who has been subjected to sexual harassment at work can consult with an employment law attorney about their options to seek justice and accountability.