By LaToi Mayo
Employers should revamp their sexual harassment training materials and programs to protect themselves from an increasing number of claims being filed by male workers. Since the start of the recession, a growing number of sexual harassment claims have come from men. Some 16.4% of all sexual harassment claims, were filed by men in the fiscal year 2009. This is an increase from 15.4%, or 1,869 claims filed in the fiscal year of 2006, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).
Experts suggest that the spike in male sexual harassment claims coincides with the recession, which has hit men harder than women. From September, 2008 to January 2010, 4.4 million men lost their jobs, while in comparison, only 2.3 million women lost their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. Moreover, the share of claims filed by men rose more in those states with higher than average unemployment rates.
In states that were hit hard by the recession, there is enough data to show a link between the recession and the rise in sexual men harassment claims. For example, in Michigan, where unemployment stood at 14.6% in January 2009, the percentage of claims by men increased to 26.6% in 2009 from 16.6 in 2007. Additionally, California saw a rise to 23.6% from 18.7% over the same period. In contrast, in states where unemployment didn’t climb as much, sexual harassment claims actually dropped. For example, Nebraska, which had 4.7% unemployment rate in 2009, saw claims drop from 23.4% in 2007 to 12.7% in 2009.
In addition, while the EEOC does not track the sex of the alleged harasser, the EEOC has observed an increasing number of men alleging sexual harassment from other male co-workers and not as many cases of men accusing female bosses of co-workers of sexual harassment. Moreover, employment attorneys report that they have also seen an increase in man on man harassment complaints. These law suits often come with hefty price tags for Employers. For example, in November, the Cheesecake Factory Restaurant chain paid 6 male employees at its’ Chandler, Arizona location $345,000.00 in a settlement, according to EEOC Senior Attorney Advisor Justine Lisser.
In light of the increase in man on man sexual harassment claims, companies should re-educate and train employees about sexual harassment and include a male-focused message to safeguard themselves from potential litigation. Sexual Harassment Training and Presentations can be performed by any attorney with the Wyatt Labor and Employment group.