A university study indicates that California workplaces may not have been positively impacted by the MeToo movement. The study included surveys of both men and women at the peak of the MeToo movement in 2018 and then similar surveys in 2019 once the movement had cooled. In the 2019 survey, 27% of men said they were more likely to avoid having one on one meetings with female coworkers, and 21% said they were more reluctant to bring on new female employees for positions where close interaction was required.
Additionally, 19% of the men surveyed said they were more reluctant to hire attractive women. All three of those figures had increased over the 2018 survey, where they were each around 15%. Many of the men surveyed said they had increased difficulty in identifying behavior that qualified as sexual harassment following MeToo. The study, though, by breaking down behaviors, indicated that both men and women largely agree regarding what constitutes harassing behavior.
In the surveys, participants were asked to classify 19 different behaviors as harassing or not harassing. Among the behaviors asked about were things like emailing sexual jokes to a subordinate who is female, commenting on a woman subordinate’s looks and continuing to ask out a woman subordinate after she says no. The survey results indicate that women may be more, rather than less, forgiving of potentially harassing behavior, so men who are doing it likely know they are doing it.
Employers in California are legally required to provide employees with a safe work environment. People who believe they have been sexually harassed might want to meet with a lawyer. A lawyer might be able to help by examining the facts for workplace harassment causes of action and building a case for trial. A lawyer might negotiate settlement with the employer out of court or draft and file a complaint for damages in cases that cannot be settled.