Since its inception in 2017, the #MeToo movement has unveiled a staggering number of workplace sexual harassment incidents. During 2018 alone, more than 7,600 complaints of sexual harassment were reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — a 13.6 percent increase from 2017. This is despite the overall decline in reports of workplace harassment.
Two years later, the #MeToo movement continues to have a profound impact on workplaces across the United States. According to an article in Bloomberg, roughly one in five U.S. workers live in states that require employers to offer sexual harassment training. Two years ago, that rate was one in 100 workers.
Some states that have passed or revamped laws requiring workplace sexual harassment training include New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, and Illinois. Some states have also passed laws putting a cap on forced arbitration, non-disclosure agreements, and other similar policies.
Is the traditional model of sexual harassment training effective?
Many employers already have some sort of sexual harassment training, but it's aimed more at reporting the behavior rather than preventing it. The EEOC says that the traditional method of sexual harassment training has proven to be ineffective. In a 2015 task force report, the EEOC found that the method of sexual harassment training over the past 30 years was really only put in place to protect employers from lawsuits.
According to Kevin Kish, director of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the #MeToo movement has ushered in a more effective method for addressing workplace sexual harassment.
“Training is moving away from ‘is this harassment or is this not harassment?’ to ‘harassment is wrong, we don’t tolerate it, here’s what we expect,’” said Kish.
For example, under New York's new law, employers must inform workers of the rights available to them and how they can submit complaints.
Workplace sexual harassment has been unlawful since a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that it violates workplace discrimination laws. This ruling has lumped sexual harassment in with discrimination based on sex. It is also unlawful under the Utah Antidiscrimination Act.
I experienced workplace sexual harassment. Why do I need an attorney?
Those who commit this horrific type of behavior in the workplace often face termination from employment, criminal charges, or both. Some perpetrators, however, go under the radar. To break the cycle of workplace sexual harassment, victims and witnesses are urged to speak up immediately.
Even when perpetrators are brought to justice, those who were responsible for ending or preventing the harassment in the first place must be held accountable. If you experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and your employer failed to act promptly and effectively, it's important that you discuss this matter with an attorney as soon as possible. The legal team at Andrus Law Firm, LLC, based in Salt Lake City, investigates incidents of workplace sexual harassment and fights on behalf of victims. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us online and schedule your free confidential consultation.