Increase in Male Sexual Harassment Claims

Typically, when you think of sexual harassment in the workplace, you probably think of women being harassed by men. Although women still file the overwhelming majority of sexual harassment claims, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has noticed an increase in complaints by men. According to the EEOC, from 1990 to 2009, the percentage of sexual harassment claims filed by men has doubled from 8% to 16% of all claims. In 2009, men filed over 2,000 complaints out of approximately 12,700 claims. Although the overall number of sexual harassment complaints has declined, the male claims continue to rise. Most claims filed by males involve men harassing other men.

Reasons for the increase in male claims are uncertain. However, Ernest Haffner, an EEOC attorney, thinks that either male sexual harassment cases are increasing in numbers or men are more willing to speak out about the harassment. Another EEOC attorney, Mary Jo O’Neill, believes that many victims are hesitant to voice a complaint because they are afraid of being considered unmanly or being ridiculed by co-workers. O’Neill also states that society expects for men to be able to handle sexual harassment situations and to be able to resolve it themselves. However, when victims feel humiliated and lack control and power, it is very difficult to resolve the conflict and punish the perpetrator.

Employers should take steps to ensure harassment does not take place. But, if harassment occurs, employers should take immediate corrective action. Managers must also insure that the organization’s climate, such as management’s real willingness to eliminate harassment, supports employees who feel harassed.

For more information on this subject, read Sam Hananel’s article called “Male-on-male sexual harassment rising” in the Baltimore Sun.  http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/men/sns-health-male-on-male-sexual-harrassment,0,4271876.story

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