Clients sometimes ask us if we are seeing an increase in the number of sexual harassment claims filed since the initiation of the #MeToo movement. Our typical answer has been “Not really, but wait.” Earlier this month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued data indicating that this anticipated bump in harassment charges may be here. According to the EEOC, the recently completed Fiscal Year 2018 showed a 12 percent increase in administrative charges alleging sexual harassment.
In addition to the administrative charges, the EEOC filed 41 lawsuits during the year that allege sexual harassment. The agency says that it recovered nearly $70 million on behalf of victims of workplace harassment, a nearly 50 percent increase from the previous year. These numbers reflect the priority the EEOC has placed on investigation and litigation of sexual and other forms of prohibited harassment. As more publicity is focused on high-profile instances of sexual harassment, employers can expect an accompanying rise in the number of claims, administrative charges, and lawsuits prompted by increasing awareness as to the illegal nature of such behavior.