On October 4, 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released its preliminary fiscal year 2018 sexual harassment statistics. The agency’s announcement reinforces its strong stance against all forms of workplace harassment in response to the #MeToo movement.
EEOC charges alleging sexual harassment increased by more than 12% from fiscal year 2017. EEOC sexual harassment lawsuits also increased by more than 50%.
2017 Sexual Harassment Statistics
Based on final sexual harassment statistics for fiscal year 2017, the number of charges alleging sexual harassment had declined compared to the year before.
In FY 2017, the EEOC received 6,696 charges alleging sexual harassment. It obtained $46.3 million on behalf of sexual harassment victims.
The 12% increase this year indicates that employees filed approximately 7,500 sexual harassment charges in FY 2018. That would represent the highest level since 2012.
During the fiscal year ending September 2018, the EEOC filed 66 harassment lawsuits. 41 of those included allegations of sexual harassment. These lawsuits involve a wide variety of employers, including those in the healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, and customer service industries.
Between litigation and administrative enforcement, the EEOC recovered nearly $70 million for employees alleging sexual harassment.
In its October 4, 2018 press release, the EEOC also discussed the “Respectful Workplaces” training program that it launched last year. This program “teaches skills for employees and supervisors to promote and contribute to respect in the workplace.”
Over 9,000 workers in both the public and private sectors participated in the training during the 2018 fiscal year. Another 13,000 employees participated in EEOC anti-harassment compliance training.
The EEOC stressed that it would continue to fight actively against all forms of harassment in the workplace.
“We have been traveling the country, spreading the word about what the EEOC is doing and the resources we have to offer,” said Commissioner Chai R. Feldblum, Co-Chair of the Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.
“I am so proud of the EEOC staff who stepped up to the heightened demand of the #MeToo movement to make clear that workplace harassment is not only unlawful, it is simply not acceptable,” added Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. “As the agency with expertise, as the enforcer of the law, and as an educator, the EEOC has continued to lead the way to achieve the goal of reducing the level of harassment and to promote harassment-free workplaces.”
Employers Should Take Note
These sexual harassment statistics demonstrate that employers must take this issue seriously to avoid liability.
It is not just the number of complaints that is going up. Overall, for charges alleging harassment, reasonable cause findings increased from 970 in FY 2017 to nearly 1,200 in FY 2018.
To help avoid joining these statistics, employers should both implement and effectively administer anti-harassment policies and procedures. Best practices include periodically training all employees about what constitutes workplace harassment and how to prevent and remedy it.