John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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Sexual harassment has reduced, but gender harassment has risen

Sexual harassment was a concern in every workplace in Minnesota and across the nation. The social media attention paid to "me too" with the hashtag to emphasize it has had an impact on how women are treated in terms of reducing sexual harassment. Because these behaviors can be so damaging to a person's job and career and there is often fear of coming forward, any tactics to reduce its frequency are welcome. However, although research indicates there has been an improvement, there have been side effects to the increased scrutiny on sexual harassment. When there has been any level of mistreatment at work, sexual harassment or otherwise, having legal advice is key to decide how to proceed.

A study recently published regarding the me to movement says that workers have seen a reduction in unwanted sexual attention and being sexually coerced while working. In the study, 250 women were surveyed in 2016 and again in 2018. For the first survey, 25 percent said they had been subject to sexual coercion in 2016. By 2018, that reduced to 16 percent. Regarding undesired sexual attention, that went from 66 percent to 25 percent. This is undeniably positive. Still, there were other issues that could be problematic. Gender harassment has gotten worse.

In 2016, 76 percent of women said they faced gender harassment. By 2018, that had risen to 92 percent. Researchers believe that this is a reaction to the growing scrutiny over any statement or behavior that could be construed as sexual harassment. Women could be bullied or face sexist comments as a form of gender harassment. In addition, a growing number of men stated they are uncomfortable being part of workplace activities with female colleagues. Sixty percent of managers who are men fear they could be accused of harassment and avoid supporting and mentoring women.

Despite the willingness to believe women when they say they are mistreated in this way and the public support they are getting for speaking up, sexual harassment is and will continue to be a problem. Now, as this study shows, it is being compounded by other forms of harassment. If there is sexual innuendo, repeated and aggressive attempts at forming a sexual relationship, offensive images and more, it could be the basis for legal filing. The same holds true for gender harassment. When faced with sexual harassment or other workplace misbehavior, a law firm that handles employment cases should be called for help in filing a claim to be compensated.

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