The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the lead agency that administers federal anti-discrimination laws, has publicly announced its preliminary data for Fiscal Year 2018 regarding charges of sexual harassment in the workplace.
And while the data are still preliminary, they are striking, perhaps reflecting the growth and influence of the #MeToo movement.
In several key metrics, the EEOC announced it had seen increasing results relating to charges of sexual harassment in the workplace in FY 2018:
- the EEOC filed 41 lawsuits against employers that included claims of sexual harassment, an increase of over 50% from the previous year;
- the EEOC obtained $70 million for employees through enforcement action, an increase of over 47% (or $22.5 million) from the previous year; and
- discrimination charges filed by employees with the EEOC that included sexual harassment allegations increased by 12% from the previous year.
This uptick in activity related to workplace sexual harassment is part of a longer-term emphasis by the EEOC. For example, the agency launched a training program in October, 2017, following on the heels of the agency’s extensive task force report on workplace harassment that it issued in 2016. In addition, the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2017 through 2021 includes preventing systemic workplace harassment as one of its six substantive area priorities.
In light of the EEOC’s intensifying focus on sexual harassment and the increase in sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC, employers should consider reviewing and updating their anti-harassment training programs, policies, and practices.