It’s funny how being laid off really puts all of your workplace problems into perspective. The Wall Street Journal reports that more and more men are claiming they are victims of sexual harassment:
Since the start of the recession, a growing number of sexual harassment complaints have come from men. Some 16.4% of all sexual harassment claims—or 2,094 claims—were filed by men in fiscal 2009, up from 15.4%, or 1,869 claims, in fiscal 2006, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
While male victims sometimes experience behavior like groping and unwanted sexual advances, employment lawyers say increasingly “locker room” type behavior like vulgar talk and horseplay with sexual connotations have been the subject of claims.
Has there been an outbreak of office grab-ass that I’m not aware of? Not quite. Instead, there has been an outbreak of men losing their jobs …
As I said earlier today, it’s only natural for people to seek answers when they lose their job:
The spike in male sexual harassment claims coincides with a recession that has hit men harder than women. From September 2008 to January 2010, 4.4 million men lost their jobs compared with 2.3 million women, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. As the economic downturn took hold in 2008, sexual harassment filings by men and women jumped by 10.8% to 13,920 claims. Employment lawyers say that when jobs are harder to obtain, many forms of litigation, especially discrimination, increase.
States hit hardest by the recession have seen the biggest spike in sexual harassment claims:
The share of claims filed by men rose more in some states with higher than average unemployment rates. Although the numbers by state are sometimes too small to compare, in states that were hit hard by the recession, there is enough data to show the link. In Michigan, where unemployment stood at 14.6% in January 2009, the percentage of claims by men increased to 26.6% in 2009 from 16.6% in 2007. California saw a rise to 23.6% from 18.7% over the same period.
But before some of the guys out there start having Demi Moore “Disclosure” fantasies, note that many of these claims concern guy-on-guy action:
The EEOC doesn’t track the sex of the alleged harasser, but Ms. Lisser says the EEOC has observed an increasing number of men alleging sexual harassment from other male co-workers—and not as many cases of men accusing female bosses or co-workers of sexual harassment. Employment attorneys have also seen an increase in man-on-man harassment complaints.
And here I thought snorkeling with male colleagues was just good clean office fun.
The WSJ also reports that Utah has the highest percentage of sexual harassment claims filed by men: 32.2% of the claims out there are made by alleged male victims. I guess I can understand that. If I were living in Utah, I’d want to get a peek at the magic underpants myself.
The bottom line is that men are probably much more sensitive to harassment issues regarding female co-workers than males. A slap on the ass is a compliment for a hard day’s work in the guy context, but I wouldn’t have slapped my female secretary’s bottom unless I wanted to get yelled at, fired, sued, or divorced.
More Men Make Harassment Claims [Wall Street Journal]
Recession Causes Rise In Man-On-Man Sexual Harassment Claims [Business Insider]