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EEOC Releases Comprehensive Report on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

April was National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Sexual assault and sexual harassment remain serious problems in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and throughout the United States—including in our nation’s workplace. As part of its awareness campaign, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a comprehensive report called Sexual Harassment in Our Nation’s Workplaces. Here, our Connecticut sexual harassment lawyers highlight some of the key findings from the EEOC’s report on sexual harassment in the workplace. 

More than 27,000 Federal Sexual Harassment Complaints Have Been Filed Since 2018

The EEOC reports that it received 27,291 charges alleging sexual harassment in the workplace from 2018 to 2021. Though, more sexual harassment charges were levied only at the state level. There was a moderate decline in the number of sexual harassment charges in 2020 and 2021 compared to 2018 and 2019. The reason for this is unknown. One theory is that the increase in remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic (temporarily) reduced sexual harassment. 

Most Sexual Harassment Charges are Filed By Women—But Men are Also Victims

The data is clear: Women are disproportionately affected by sexual harassment in the workplace. The EEOC estimates that 78 percent of sexual harassment complaints are filed by women. That being said, men can be (and are) the victims of job-related sexual harassment. One in five federal sector workplace sexual harassment complaints filed between 2018 and 2021 were initiated by male employees. 

Workers Often Report Retaliation for Complaining About Sexual Harassment

According to the EEOC, 40 percent of employees who file a formal sexual harassment complaint also file a concurrent unlawful retaliation claim. Retaliation occurs when a supervisor or employee takes adverse action against an employee because that employee exercised their rights. It is unlawful. An employer cannot suspend, demote, terminate, or otherwise punish an employee because that employee complained about or reported sexual harassment. Of the workers who filed both a sexual harassment complaint and a retaliation claim, 48 percent allege that they were fired for reporting sexual harassment. 

The Data Does Not Tell the Full Story: Sexual Harassment is Underreported

Unfortunately, the data released by the EEOC—as alarming as it is—does not tell the full story. Studies have consistently found that sexual harassment is chronically underreported. One study even found that 90 percent of people who experience sexual harassment in the workplace never formally report the issue. There are many reasons for this, including the factor that many employees fear retaliation from their employer. Remember, retaliation is illegal. You can hold an employer legally liable for retaliating against you for filing a workplace harassment complaint. 

Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Connecticut Sexual Harassment Attorney

At Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC, our Connecticut sexual harassment lawyer provides proactive, justice-driven legal representation to employees. If you or your loved one was subject to unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace, we are here to help. Give us a call now or contact us to arrange a completely confidential initial consultation. From our Hartford office and our New Haven office, we are well-situated to represent employees throughout Connecticut.