Sexual harassment on the job in California and across the United States has garnered significant attention alongside the rise of the #MeToo movement. However, statistics also show that over the past 20 years, sexual harassment complaints in the United States have fallen significantly. In 1997, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 16,000 sexual harassment complaints. Two decades later, that number fell to 9,600, amounting to a decrease of over 40 percent.
Harassment training, which is more common than it was two decades ago, may have helped lead to more harassment-free work environments. However, looking more deeply into the figures reveals that harassment rates have not changed for everyone. While complaints with smaller companies have dropped by almost 70 percent, larger companies have had much less of a decline. Companies with over 500 employees have seen a decrease of around 30 percent since 1995.
Race is one of the most significant factors to be considered, especially as racial and gender discrimination can frequently intersect in the workplace. In 1996, the EEOC received approximately 200 monthly complaints from white women and 50 from black women. In 2016, on the other hand, the EEOC received around 60 monthly complaints from white women, a significant drop. However, it still received approximately 50 monthly complaints from black women.
An individual facing discrimination and sexual harassment on the job can work with an employment lawyer. Legal counsel could help to file EEOC complaints or seek justice in court against an employer that has refused to take action to stop sexual harassment.