After a jump in the number of sexual harassment complaints made to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and to state and local employment agencies through the 1990s and early 2000s, formal sexual harassment claims have decreased…
Lawyers who represent plaintiffs say they believe that the decline in complaints is linked to the economy’s weakness. “I think there’s absolutely no doubt that claims are going down because people are more reluctant to bring claims against companies in this economy,” said Janice Goodman, a New York employment lawyer who specializes in anti-discrimination law. “That is something those of us practicing in this area have all felt.”
At the same time, the types of sexual harassment cases have been shifting.
The portion of sexual harassment charges filed by men, for example, has grown markedly, from 9.1 percent of all charges in the 1992 fiscal year to 16.4 percent in 2010. The commission does not track the sex of those named in complaints as harassers, but anecdotal evidence suggests that many of these cases involve men complaining about unwelcome advances from other men. And the commission has filed lawsuits in a number of male/male sexual harassment cases in the last few years.