The number of sex harassment claims filed against employers has increased in the year since the #MeToo movement began.FN1 The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”)FN2 preliminary 2018 figures show that just under 10,000 sexual harassment claims have been filed to date in 2018, which is a three percent increase over the previous year.FN3
The news comes on the heals of reports about the resignation of long-time CBS chief executive, Leslie Moonves, and the ouster of a CBS executive producer, in light of sexual harassment allegations.FN4 These reports serve as reminders of the non-legal impact that sexual harassment allegations can have on businesses.
The reported increase in sexual harassment claims underscores the importance for companies to embrace a culture that does not tolerate harassment. Companies can do this by maintaining clear anti-harassment policies; requiring reporting of policy violations; training managers and ensuring non-managers are well aware of anti-harassment policies and reporting expectations; and thoroughly investigating complaints of harassment.
FN1: Chris Opfer, Sex Harassment Claims on Rise, EEOC Finds, Bloomberglaw.com (Sept. 12, 2018), https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/sex-harassment-claims-on-rise-eeoc-finds
FN2: The EEOC is the federal agency tasked with administering federal employment civil rights laws. Employees and former employees who wish to file an employment discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans With Disabilities Act, or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act must first exhaust administrative remedies by filing charges of discrimination with the EEOC.
FN3: The increase in sexual harassment claims came even as total discrimination and harassment claims decreased. See supra fn 1.
FN4: See Edmund Lee, CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves Steps Down After Sexual Harassment Claims, New York Times (Sept. 9, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/09/business/les-moonves-longtime-cbs-chief-may-be-gone-by-monday.html; John Koblin and Michael M. Grynbaum, ’60 Minutes’ Chief Ousted for a Threatening Text as Upheaveal at CBS Continues, New York Times (Sept. 12, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/business/media/jeff-fager-60-minutes-cbs.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage