While people in New York are now more aware of sexual harassment, it continues to pose a serious problem on the job for many women. The #MeToo movement shed light on harassment and sexual coercion in major industries, including entertainment, politics and technology. While it may have bolstered some women’s willingness to report inappropriate treatment on the job, the movement has not stopped sexual harassment from taking place. Indeed, women are still facing firing, demotion or attempts to force them out of their jobs, especially after reporting harassment incidents.
Retaliation by employers is illegal; workers cannot be fired or otherwise penalized for reporting sexual harassment. Still, it continues to be an all-too-common practice that pressures many female employees and stops them from speaking up about mistreatment on the job. Some companies have come under fire for policies related to harassment, including mandatory arbitration procedures and nondisclosure agreements that largely serve to protect perpetrators rather than victims. The success of the #MeToo movement in ousting powerful executives in the entertainment industry has encouraged many to come forward, but they continue to face inappropriate retaliation in many cases.
In 2018, sexual harassment complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rose by 13.6% even while overall complaints fell by nearly 10% from the prior year. At the same time, the most common complaint filed with the EEOC is retaliation, and 75% of harassment complaints include some form of retaliation against the victim. This is especially true for lower-wage workers; the restaurant industry alone accounts for over 33% of harassment complaints.
Workers facing sexual harassment on the job may be concerned about retaliation if they report the mistreatment. An employment law attorney can provide workers with advice and guidance about the steps they can take to protect themselves and seek justice.