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Claims of sexual harassment continue to rise in workplaces

The #metoo movement has shined light sexual harassment in the workplace. While people are acutely more aware of the problem than in the past, claims of harassment continue to rise within American workplaces. Marketwatch examines these statistics to help people understand the scope of the problem facing workers. 

In 2018, claims of harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were 13.6% higher than the previous year. That same year, claimants were awarded nearly $70 million, in contrast to the $47.5 million awarded during the previous year. Of those making harassment claims, women made up 85% of the total group. While some find these rise in numbers troubling, especially when so much focus is on sexual harassment in the workplace these days, others claim it could actually be a good thing.

Sadly, only about 20% of incidents are reported to employers and other groups. Increased numbers could mean that more and more people feel comfortable speaking about what happened to them, which means those responsible for poor behavior will be held accountable. Others feel that it has much to do with digital devices and paper trails. These days, harassment also takes place digitally via text and email. When harassers send salacious messages at work, it's easier for victims to present evidence of what occurred.

It's also speculated that many companies are ramping up their harassment policies. The goal is to make it easier for employees to make claims, while also ensuring all workers are fully aware of what is and is not appropriate behavior in the workplace. Some companies, including Google, have also ended mandatory arbitration policies. These policies stipulate that workers must undergo internal dispute resolution, which could potentially protect responsible parties from the court system.

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