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Sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual Harassment News 2018

October 11, 2018

50% Increase in EEOC Sexual Harassment Recoveries

Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D

Sexual harassment in the workplace recently made headlines for a different reason: the EEOC reported a 50% increase in the number of sexual harassment cases filed, and a nearly 50% increase in the recovery amounts for victims of sexual harassment. In the first fiscal year since the #MeToo movement brought additional attention to workplace sexual harassment, more victims filed claims with the EEOC and more claims ended with successful conciliations.

EEOC Sexual Harassment Report

In FY 2018, the EEOC filed 66 harassment lawsuits. Of that number, 41 included allegations of sexual harassment, a more than 50% increase from FY 2017. And overall, the EEOC recovered nearly $70 million for victims of sexual harassment, both through litigation and administrative enforcement. This represents a 47% increase over the $47.5 million recovered in FY 2017.

The EEOC also reported an increase in reasonable cause findings in harassment charges, up to nearly 1,200 in FY 2018 from 970 in FY 2017. Successful conciliations also increased from 348 in FY 2017 to nearly 500 in FY 2018.

In addition to pursuing more sexual harassment claims, the EEOC also conducted over 1,000 outreach events to provide information on workplace sexual harassment and promote solutions. The commission’s educational materials include What to do if you believe you have been harassed at work, which trains individuals on how to respond when they face workplace harassment, and Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment, aimed at employers, which offers strategies to reduce workplace harassment.

The increases reflect additional focus on workplace sexual harassment. For example, the EEOC’s sexual harassment page saw more than twice as many hits in FY 2018 compared to the previous year, as more employers and workers educated themselves on workplace harassment.

State and Local Sexual Harassment Protections

The EEOC may be the most visible protector of employment rights in the federal government, but state and local agencies also play an important role in investigating and pursuing workplace sexual harassment cases.

In New York state, for example, the New York State Division of Human Rights enforces state workplace sexual harassment protections. The New York City Commission on Human Rights investigates violations of NYC employment protections, including sexual harassment. New laws, including the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, provide additional protections for workers in New York City.

Sexual harassment laws at the federal, state, and local level also protect employees from retaliation because of a sexual harassment complaint. For example, employers cannot fire employees for filing a claim with the EEOC or participating in a state or city investigation into sexual harassment.

Legal Support for Victims of Sexual Harassment

The EEOC, the New York Division of Human Rights, and the NYC Commission on Human Rights all set statutes of limitation on filing sexual harassment complaints. Because of the time limits, victims of sexual harassment may want to contact an attorney for a free consultation for advice on filing a claim. Victims of sexual harassment may also benefit from legal advice on the process of filing a complaint, participating in an investigation, and reaching a settlement with an employer.

Workplace sexual harassment remains a major problem. Employees can protect themselves by knowing their rights and knowing how to file a claim. Learn more about sexual harassment protections, filing a claim, and sexual harassment settlements.

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