Sexual harassment claims up by 12% in US: Report

Sexual harassment claims up by 12% in US: Report

New federal data indicates that sexual harassment claims have increased 12 per cent year-over-year following the revelations about disgraced former movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

The data was released by the US Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). It said that the charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment increased by 12 per cent from fiscal year 2017.

It also said in a press release that it had filed 66 harassment lawsuits in 2017, a 50 per cent increase from the year prior.

According to Variety, harassment claims reported to the EEOC represented a fraction of the total number of claims in the US, but “the trend lines are telling”. The increase over the past year seems to have correlation with the #MeToo movement sparked by the Weinstein scandal.

His downfall precipitated a wave of “national reckoning” against sexual harassment and assault in the US.

The report said that over the previous seven years, harassment claims had declined from 7,944 in 2010 to 6,696 in 2017. The EEOC’s preliminary data showed an increase to about 7,500 claims in 2018, the highest level since 2012.

The trend was more pronounced in state data released by California and New York earlier this year. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said it received 939 complaints in the first three months of 2018, an 80 per cent jump from the same period last year.

The New York Division of Human Rights received 353 complaints for the seven-month period following October 1, 2017, a 60 per cent increase from the same period a year earlier.

“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,” Victoria Lipnic, the acting chair of the agency, said in a statement cited by Variety.

“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,” Lipnic said.