Female workers in California and elsewhere are reporting fewer instances of unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion. This is according to a study conducted by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado. The study involved 500 women who were polled about their experiences with sexual harassment and coercion in September 2016 and in September 2018. The results suggest that sexual harassment is happening less frequently in the workplace.
However, there was an increase in the amount of gender harassment reported between 2016 and 2018. For example, men have increasingly said that they don’t want to be alone with women or mentor them because they don’t want to be falsely accused of sexual harassment. This is in spite of the fact that false accusations of harassment are rare. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there was a 14% increase in sexual harassment complaints in 2018 compared to 2017.
This is likely because workers are more aware of what harassment looks like and are comfortable talking about their experiences. The #MeToo movement has been credited for the increased awareness of sexual harassment. According to a study from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 51% of companies have reviewed their sexual harassment policies in the wake of the #MeToo movement. In many cases, having a clear sexual harassment policy helps to establish boundaries for everyone to adhere to.
Those who are the target of offensive sexual comments or sexual advances may wish to file a complaint. This may be done either with the employer or with the EEOC. If a matter cannot be resolved outside of court, it may be possible to file a sexual harassment lawsuit. A demotion, termination or other actions taken by an employer might be used as evidence that harassment occurred.