Sexual harassment claims drop among some, not all employees

Black and older women as well as people who work at larger companies in Tennessee and throughout the country may be more likely to report sexual harassment than young white women. Data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicates that while from 1997 to 2017 there was a drop from 16,000 to 9,600 in sexual harassment complaints, not all employees have benefited equally from this drop.

A number of reasons for the overall decline in harassment claims have been identified. Sexual harassment training has improved. There are more women managers, and they are less likely to commit sexual harassment. A generation that may have been socialized in a time when sexual harassment was more acceptable might have retired. However, the biggest drop, almost 70 percent, has come in companies that have between 15 and 100 employees. Larger companies have only seen a drop of around 30 percent.

In the past, women in their 20s and 30s reported more sexual harassment than their older colleagues. Today, sexual harassment reports for women in their 50s has increased. Furthermore, in 1996, there were around 50 claims monthly from black women and 200 from white women. In 2016, there was almost no change in complaints from black women while complaints from white women had dropped to around 60 per month. Complaints from men have also increased over time.

People who believe they are facing sexual harassment in the workplace might want to talk to an attorney before going through workplace channels to report it. An attorney might be able to explain how to document any harassment or retaliation.

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