Monday, April 05, 2010
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, while acknowledging that women continue to file the majority of sexual harassment claims, says there has been an increase in sexual harassment claims made by men. The EEOC released a report earlier this month that shows the number of harassment claims filed by men doubled between 1990 and 2009, a jump from 8 percent to 16 percent. The report also notes that most of the men who have filed complaints have experienced harassment by other men.
According to the EEOC, men are often targets of harassment because they are “gay, perceived as being gay or not masculine enough for the work setting.” The precedent for protection against discrimination from members of the same sex was set when the Supreme Court recognized male-on-male harassment in its Title VII ruling.
Many sexual harassment cases involving men in recent years have made the news: Just last year, the EEOC’s Phoenix office filed a suit against popular restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory after six male employees said they had been groped and sexually harassed by male coworkers. As a result, The Cheesecake Factory was ordered to pay over $300,000 in damages. Another case was filed the same year against Cintas Corporation, a Cincinnati-based company that manufactures professional uniforms. According to the lawsuit, two former male employees alleged that a coworker at the company’s Pennsylvania location groped them and made unwanted sexual advances. Perhaps the highest profile allegations of male-on-male harassment recently came out of Washington D.C. Just last month, New York congressman Eric Massa announced his retirement amid allegations that he sexually harassed a former male member of his staff.
Notorious headline-garnering cases aside, the EEOC is quick to note that number of men reporting sexual harassment has grown but is still not as large as the number filed by women. In fact, the numbers of harassment cases filed by women has also grown since 1990.