Sexual Harassment Claims Rise in Wake of #MeToo
For decades, both men and women who experienced sexual harassment were reluctant to come forward and report their experiences in the proper channels. Now, however, the #MeToo movement has given victims a crucial confidence boost in reporting instances of inappropriate behavior – leading to a 14% increase in sexual harassment complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In spite of the progress made by the brave individuals behind the #MeToo movement, many victims of sexual harassment still feel too afraid and alone to report their abusers. At Habbas & Associates, our workplace discrimination attorneys are ready to hear your story, and fight for your legal rights. With over 175 years of combined experience and extensive resources in the Bay Area, we can stand up against your harassers and demand accountability.
The Changing Landscape at America’s Workplaces
According to the latest report from the EEOC, more than 7,609 sexual harassment complaints were filed throughout 2018, even though other forms of workplace harassment and discrimination declined overall. For workers’ rights advocates, this is seen as a major leap forward in tracking instances of alleged discriminatory behavior.
The actual legislation surrounding workplace harassment has also been changing since the #MeToo movement began in 2016, exposing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and other major authority figures accused of sexual assault and harassment. In California, for instance, Governor Jerry Brown signed several bills into law as a direct response to this movement, making it easier for victims to pursue appropriate legal action.
These bills, effective January 1st of 2019, include the following changes:
- Employers can no longer include confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements, for any matter related to sexual assault or harassment proceedings.
- Plaintiffs now have a lower standard of proof in sexual harassment cases, and only need to prove that a reasonable person subjected to that conduct would have a difficult time performing their job.
- Employers can’t require an employee to sign non-disparagement agreements about unlawful acts within the workplace, including sexual harassment.
- Victims can bring a hostile work environment claim with only a single incident of harassing conduct, as long as it has reasonably interfered with their work or caused harm.
Even with these legislative changes, there have been continued reports of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination surfacing over the past few years. In November 2018, 20,000 Google employees comprised mostly of women and gender minorities staged a successful walkout, demanding greater accountability after several harassment incidents were reported in the New York Times.
Seek the Skilled Legal Assistance You Need
In spite of these new legal protections, EEOC specialists estimate that the current complaints only represent 15 to 20% of all workers who have experienced sexual harassment. And although the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) protects workers from this kind of illegal behavior, it can still be a daunting challenge to bring a discrimination case while working in a hostile environment.
At Habbas & Associates, we understand where you’re coming from, and we want to help. With proven experience in high-profile workplace discrimination cases, we can act as your advocates and give you the compassionate counsel you need. No one should have to suffer emotionally and psychologically because of their job, or worry about termination on the basis of their gender and sexual identity. Our attorneys want you to receive justice, and we’ll fight tirelessly on your behalf.
Call (888) 387-4053 today to get in touch with our San Jose discrimination lawyers.