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EEOC complaints about sexual harassment rise 13.6% in 1 year

The effects of the #MeToo movement appear to be motivating more victims to stand up for their workplace rights. Employers in California and across the country have been dealing with rising numbers of complaints about sexual harassment. In fiscal year 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission processed 7,609 complaints about sexual harassment. This represented a 13.6% increase over the previous fiscal year.

Financial settlements jumped in fiscal year 2018 for cases handled by the EEOC. The commission recovered $70 million compared to $47.5 million in fiscal year 2017. Although the agency has been receiving more sexual harassment complaints, their cases do not represent the actual number of victims. The acting EEOC chairwoman said that only about 15% to 20% of workers report their problems with sexual harassment.

Mistreated workers, however, are starting to gain more confidence about filing complaints about violations of civil rights. A senior attorney at the EEOC said that internal complaints to employers have been rising steadily. Digital technology used at most workplaces has been increasing the possibility of proving claims. Texts, smartphone pictures and emails create digital evidence trails that sometimes provide workers with concrete evidence of sexually harassing behaviors.

A person who has some documented evidence of sexual harassment could ask an attorney to evaluate it. Legal counsel could provide an opinion about the strength of the evidence. This information might form the basis for a formal complaint to the EEOC. The attorney could oversee communications with the employer while the EEOC investigates the complaint. Legal guidance could help a person negotiate a settlement with an employer.

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