The #MeToo movement started to spread virally as a hashtag on social media in October 2017, serving as a platform to speak against sexual harassment and assault. While the hashtag is new, unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace is not. Despite numerous federal and state laws, Supreme Court cases, and specific workplace employment policies that prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace, the issue remains. However, with a surge of public support within a national spotlight, the #MeToo movement may help change the trajectory of this longstanding issue in the workplace.
The legal impact of the #MeToo movement has affected the workplace and how employees respond to sexual harassment. New laws have even been enacted, such as California’s requirement that a percentage of women must hold places on publicly-traded company Board of Directors. Additionally, under California law, Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) can only be requested by plaintiffs in sexual harassment, and those who are accused are not allowed to require NDAs from employees. California’s courts are addressing the overwhelming tide of sexual harassment claims within the #MeToo era.
This movement is only in its infancy, with no expectation of slowing down. As the movement and public awareness grow, it is a safe assumption that more and more women will come forward with sexual harassment claims in the workplace.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The #MeToo movement has also initiated an increase in workplace-related sexual harassment claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC has strict guidelines regarding what is considered sexual harassment, and it includes the following actions:
- Any unwanted or unwelcome physical touching or contact
- The display or sending of any sexually suggestive explicit pictures
- Any lewd, explicit or sexually suggestive text messages, email, or postings on any social media platform
- Any sexual advances, including verbal offers or requests
- Any sexually suggestive comments directed at you or around you
Increases in Complaints
There were significant upticks in activity in reporting sexual harassment cases. According to the EEOC, sexual harassment charges filed increased by 12%, lawsuits increased by 50%, and damages increased by 67%.
Increases in Retaliation
Unfortunately,an increase in sexual harassment claims also means an increase in retaliation by employers against the victims who come forward. A full three-quarters of sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC include a charge of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment or abuse.
An Advocate You Can Trust
At California Employment Counsel, APC, we know that you may feel empowered by the #MeToo movement to come forward and file a sexual harassment claim. If your employer refuses to take action regarding your grievance, or worse, retaliates against you due to your sexual harassment claim, contact one of our experienced attorneys today. Our skilled and knowledgeableattorneysare available for a consultation to discuss your case of sexual harassment in the workplace. Contact us online or call (714) 462-8376 to discuss your legal rights today.