The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released data on sexual harassment claims for fiscal year 2018. This data shows in the wake of the MeToo movement, sexual harassment and harassment based on other protected categories is top of mind with employees and with the administrative agency tasked with enforcing laws regarding harassment.
Charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment went up by more than 12% from the prior year. For harassment charges filed with the EEOC, the number of reasonable cause findings increased from 970 in 2017 to 1,200 in 2018. The EEOC recovered nearly $70 million dollars for the victims of sexual harassment through administrative enforcement and litigation in 2018, approximately 47% more than the total recovery amount for 2017.
In addition to increased activity from individuals, the EEOC stepped up its enforcement efforts in 2018. There was a 50% increase in the number of lawsuits filed by the EEOC against employers alleging sexual harassment as compared to 2017. In June and August 2018, in two coordinated efforts, the EEOC filed a total of 14 lawsuits across the country charging employers with harassment.
In light of this increase in harassment claims, employers should review their policies to ensure effective procedures for resolving complaints and safeguarding employees from retaliation. It is important to have regular, tailored, and interactive training for employees to communicate these policies and encourage employees to report issues so that employers can promptly address them to mitigate legal risks and create a positive workplace culture.
The employment attorneys at Poyner Spruill regularly provide guidance on harassment policies and are available to train management and non-management employees with a focus on recognizing, reporting, and appropriately dealing with allegations of harassment in the workplace.