The Spitz Law Firm (a limited liability company)
The Spitz Law Firm (a limited liability company)

Call The Right Attorney

No Fee Guarantee

Is Sexual Harassment At Work Common?

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2020 | Practice Areas |

Best Gender
Discrimination
 Attorney Answers: How Has the #MeToo movement
impacted the workplace? Can an employer not hire women to avoid sexual harassment
claims? Can my male boss refuse to socialize with female employees but only do
happy hour with the boys?

I was just interviewed by WOIO news regarding one of our sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and wrongful termination cases. (Watch the interview here). The reporter asked a very interesting question, was the egregious acts of sexual harassment uncommon? I thought for a moment and had to respond that given the large volume of these cases that our employment discrimination attorneys handle every day, unfortunately, this is not uncommon. There are a lot of really shitty bosses, managers, and supervisors out there that believe that they can demand sex, ask for sexual favors, or request nudes from their female subordinates. (See My Boss Wants To Be My Sugar Daddy!; My Boss Forced Me To Have Sex With Him; Can I Sue If My Boss Texted Me That I Have To Have Sex With Him?).

A 2018 study by a University of
Houston and her colleagues which collected data from 152 men and 303 women from
a wide range of jobs. This study found that 63 percent of women reported that
they had been sexually harassed, with 33 percent reporting that they had been
harassed more than once. The study also found that the woman’s age, the gender
of the women’s supervisor, the kind of job that the women had, and whether the
women were married had no impact on the likelihood that the women had been
harassed. Heartbreakingly, only 20 percent of the women who told the study that
they had been harassed reported it to their employer or got help from an
employment attorney. The majority of these women said that they were afraid
that there would be retaliation, or that they would be labeled troublemakers if
they decided to report the quid pro quo sexual
harassment or sexually hostile work environment to human resources (“HR”).

(See What
Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?
).

Has there been some improvement
over time? Sure, but not enough.

#MeToo will undoubtedly go down
in history as one of the greatest social movements of the 21st century. For
those readers who are unfamiliar, and I would be disappointed if you are, the
#MeToo movement is a women’s rights movement that took the world by storm in
2017. The #MeToo movement began in 2006, with the goal to demonstrate just how
widespread and prevalent sexual assault and gender-based harassment is,
especially in the workplace.

Following the sexual-abuse allegations against
Harvey Weinstein in 2017, the #MeToo hashtag took off. This was due in large
part to Hollywood actress Alyssa Milano encouraging victims of sexual assault
and harassment to tweet #MeToo in order to “give
people a sense of the magnitude of the problem
.” Following Milano’s
tweet, the Pew
Research Center found
that the #MeToo hashtag was used more than 19 million
times. The Pew Research Center determined that the hashtag was being used more
than 55,000 times a day. Following the #MeToo movement at
least 200 high profile men
have lost their jobs due to over 920 brave
people coming forward to tell their stories of sexual assault and harassment. It
wasn’t just high-profile harassers that were exposed, victims throughout the
country came forward in an attempt to rid their workplaces of harassers, and it
worked! According to a report by Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission

(“EEOC”), reports of sexual harassment
increased 13.9 percent the year after #MeToo took the world by storm. (See Top Employment Law
Attorney: Do Not File With The EEOC Without Doing This First
File With The EEOC Or
Get A Lawyer? Call The Right Attorney
;
Should I Get A Lawyer
To Help Me File An EEOC Charge?
;
and Should I File With The
EEOC On My Own? Call The Right Attorney
).

Unfortunately, while there has
been a lot of positives to come from the #MeToo movement, there has also been a
significant backlash by employers. According to a recent article by Harvard
Business Review
, many employers are using #MeToo to keep women out of the
workplace.

Is Sexual Harassment At Work Common?

In discussing this with the
other employment law lawyers in the office, we agree that the most important
finding of the study is the unfortunate backlash that women have faced since
the #MeToo movement. According to the study, 77 percent of men reported that
they anticipated being more careful in the workplace about potentially
harassing behavior. While it would seem like a good thing that men are becoming
more self-aware of their behavior, some of the steps employers have taken to
prevent harassment are downright discriminatory. For instance, 10 percent of
both males and females surveyed said that they were now less willing to hire
attractive women. The discrimination extended beyond hiring as 22 percent of
men and 44 percent of women thought that male employees would be more likely to
exclude female co-workers from social interactions like Christmas parties and
after-work drinks, which is where important work-related relationships can be
properly cultivated and lead to advancement. Around one-third of men, and over
half of women said that they anticipated men would continue to harass female
co-workers but would be more careful to avoid being caught.

The Researcher decided that
because the study took place in 2018, so in time to when the #MeToo movement went
viral, and because much of the study focused on the employees’ expectations,
the researchers decided to conduct a follow-up survey (with different employees)
in early 2019. The follow-up survey found that there was an even bigger
backlash than the employees in the first survey had anticipated.

For instance, in the 2019
survey, 19 percent of men said they were reluctant to
hire attractive women
, and 21 percent of men said
they had reservations about hiring women for jobs that required a lot of one on
one interaction with men
, such as jobs that require a lot of travel, or
two-person projects. About 27 percent of men said that
they actively avoided one-on-one meetings with female colleagues
, this was
the only area where the number reported in 2019 was lower than the number
reported in 2018 (27 percent in 2019 versus 33 percent in 2018).

The researchers say that some
of the opinions of males in the survey are examples of what is sometimes
referred to as the Mike Pence Rule.
The Mike Pence Rule is a reference to the U.S. vice president’s refusal to have
dinner with women employees unless his wife is also at the table. Why is this
discriminatory or an employer to use? Well, male subordinates have unfettered
access to talk business over a meal with a boss, manager or supervisor, but
women employees must wait until the wife or other chaperone is available. And
then, how much sensitive business issues can really be talked about in front of
a wife or chaperone? It puts woman at a disadvantage and is clearly gender
discrimination.

Is Sexual Harassment At Work Common?

Rachel Sturm, one of the
researchers and a professor at Wright State University said “I’m not sure we
were surprised by the numbers, but we were disappointed,” Professor Sturm went
on to say “When men say, ‘I’m not going to hire you, I’m not going to send you
traveling, I’m going to exclude you from outings’—those are steps backward.” Not
only are these steps backward, but it is also outright discrimination.

Gender is one of the protected classes
under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964
and a similar Ohio law. See, R.C. § 4112.02(A). Both employment
discrimination laws make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an individual
based on that individual’s; race/color,
religion,
gender/sex,
national
origin
, age,
and/or disability.
Despite the fact that these classes have been protected for over 50 years, some
employers continue to violate the law.

As our employment discrimination
lawyers have blogged about before, gender discrimination can be found when an
employer takes any adverse action against an employee based on their protected class,
including the employee’s gender. An adverse action may include failure to promote,
failure to hire, and termination. (See My
Job Promoted A Less Qualified Man!
; Can
I Be Fired Because My Boss Doesn’t Think I’m Feminine Enough?
; Can
I Still Bring A Gender Discrimination Claim If I Am Forced To Quit?
).

When 19 percent of men said they
were reluctant to hire attractive women in the #MeToo study they were openly admitting
to refusing to hire someone based on their gender. Similarly, when the 21 percent
of men said they had reservations about hiring women for jobs that required a lot
of one on one interaction with men they were saying that they wouldn’t hire people
of a certain gender to do certain types of jobs, another form of gender discrimination.
Finally, when 27 percent of men said that they actively avoided one-on-one meetings
with female colleagues they admitted to treating similarly situated employees
differently because of their gender, a textbook example of gender discrimination.
There was a silver lining in the #MeToo study, according to the study, 74 percent
of women say that they are now more willing to speak out against harassment. (This
is great! Call the Right Attorney
to find out how!)

Keep in mind that while
treating employees differently because of their gender is a form of
discrimination, paying workers differently based upon their gender is also illegal
under the Equal Pay Act
(“EPA”). (See
Why
Do Women At Work Make Less Than Men? I Need The Top Gender Discrimination Attorney
And Best Equal Pay Lawyers In Ohio!)
The Equal Pay Act requires employers to
pay men and women who perform the same job duties the same wage.

At The Spitz Law Firm, LLC, our employment lawyers
work every day with individuals who have discrimination issues that are based on
their gender. Many of the issues surrounding workplaces favor male employees and
allow male employees more opportunities to advance to higher, and better-paying
positions. In fact, you may have read about some particularly noteworthy gender
discrimination issues here on this employment
discrimination
blog written by our lawyers.

Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar Ohio laws. Sexual
harassment is a form of gender discrimination. If you feel that you are being
sexually harassed or are working in a sexually charged or hostile working
environment, you should not wait to call the right attorney
to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At The Spitz
Law Firm, you will meet with a sexual harassment lawyer/hostile work
environment attorney to find out what your legal rights are and the best way to
protect them. Sexual harrassment is a form of gender discrimination, and
employers should be held accountable if they discriminate against female
workers in any fashion – but particularly for sexual harrassment. It does not
matter if you have been wrongfully fired or are still employed, there is no
reason to wait to find out what your legal rights are and how to protect
yourself from sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Call our office at 866-797-6040.

Disclaimer:

The materials available at the top of
this page and at this gender discrimination, wrongful termination, and sex
harassment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the
purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking “what should I do if
I was fired today for reporting sexual harassment to HR”, “I’m being sexually
harassed by my boss at work” “my supervisor groped my boobs”, “my manager rubs
against me,” “I’ve been wrongfully terminated,” or “who is the best sexual
harassment lawyer”, your best course is to contact an Ohio sexual
harassment attorney/hostile work environment lawyer
to obtain advice with respect to
sexual harassment/hostile work environment questions or any particular
employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of
the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client
relationship. The legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through
this employment law website are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may
not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.