There’s been a remarkable change in the way that America is approaching the idea of gender equality and rights — especially where sexual harassment is concerned. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that it has filed 50 percent more lawsuits regarding sexual harassment in 2018 than in the previous year, and charges filed with the commission have increased by 12 percent.
In addition to vocalizing their experiences and taking legal action, victims of sexual harassment are also getting results. The EEOC also reports that it has found reasonable cause for complaints 1,200 times — which is up from 970 the previous year. Altogether, the agency has collected $70 million for victimized employees — a significant increase from the $47.5 it recovered in 2017.
Part of what has happened is that there has been a reckoning in many industries with the “culture of harassment” and the mechanisms in place that served to insulate many harassers. Many large corporations, including Google and Facebook, have ended the policy of requiring employees to take claims of sexual harassment to mandatory arbitration.
Mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment claims was often enforced even when arbitration wasn’t required for any other type of employee issue. The idea behind arbitration was that it was supposed to protect the company’s reputation. In reality, the sealed settlements ended up protecting the abusers — particularly those who were well-placed.
Now, companies that require mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment claims are being called to task by employees, customers and the public. The consensus now seems to be that a company that doesn’t foster an environment that allows harassment to continue doesn’t need to worry about hiding anything under the rug of arbitration.
If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment, don’t try to handle the situation on your own. If you have been subjected to retaliation because you rebuffed someone’s advances or filed a complaint about harassment you experienced, you may have options. Review our website for more information.