Sexual Harassment Claims May Be Down, But Numbers Hide Ugly Truth

One might look at the number of sexual harassment charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in fiscal year 2010 and have reason to believe the problem is getting better. After all, as Bloomberg reported on November 17, 2011, the figure has been going down since 2008—falling to 11,717 in fiscal year 2010 from a 1997 peak of 15,889. However, the decreasing number of charges filed with the EEOC is likely the result of more companies requiring new hires to agree to arbitrate complaints, including sexual harassment, as a condition of getting a job.

The result is a significant amount of arbitration proceedings kept confidential with settlements that are kept secret. One lawyer told Bloomberg that a case he handled, in which he negotiated a settlement on behalf of a female executive at a finance company who refused to agree to sex to get a promotion, “might be one of the largest sexual harassment settlements in U.S. history and no one knows about it.”

However, Bloomberg also noted that while there has been a decrease in the traditional quid pro quo form of sexual harassment, “there are more complaints from employees about bosses who make sexual remarks or send inappropriate e-mails and text messages.” Additionally, Bloomberg said that an increase in women in management positions and employees who are openly gay has led to more complaints filed by men against both male and female bosses.

Do you know if you have signed an arbitration agreement as part of your employment? How misleading do you think the statistics from the EEOC are in regards to these types of harassment?

Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment attorneys

Tags: ,