California employees may be interested to learn that, based on an analysis of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, sexual harassment in the workplace rises when male unemployment rates rise. In fact, sex discrimination claims made to the EEOC have increased by about 10 percent over the last two decades.
It was argued that sex discrimination and, in particular, sexual harassment, increases when men’s traditional gender roles were threatened. For example, a 2003 study gave some men the opportunity to engage in sexual harassment after threatening their gender roles. The results showed that those who were threatened were more likely to sexually harass women than those who weren’t. The sex discrimination claims from the EEOC data also showed that, as unemployment for men increased, the number of reported sexual harassment incidents also increased.
There are some other potential explanations for the increase in reported sexual harassment incidents. For example, the increase in the number of female workers could potentially result in the rise of sexual harassment allegations.
Although it is illegal, workplace sexual harassment is still a common experience for many employees. All employees deserve to feel safe at work and be free from unwanted sexual advances, unwanted sexual innuendos or other forms of harassment. Those who experience incidents but have their complaints ignored or who are threatened with reduced hours or termination may have legal options available to them. An employment law attorney can review the situation and outline the next steps that could be taken.