(WASHIGNTON) – According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment claims filed by men have doubled since 1990. While women still file the overwhelming majority of sexual harassment claims the increase in complaints by men has risen from 8 percent of all complaints in 1990 to 16 percent of all claims in 2009.
“The staggering rise in sexual harassment complaints filed by men suggests a very troubling trend,” said Augusta Thomas, AFGE Women’s and Fair Practices national vice-president. “Unfortunately, victims too often feel embarrassed to report such abuse, which means that reports probably underestimate the problem.”
The uptick in claims includes those made by men against male supervisors and coworkers. These types of claims have grown steadily since the Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that same-sex harassment is a valid claim under federal anti-discrimination laws. In many instances complainants claim that they have been targeted because they are either gay or are not perceived to be masculine enough in traditionally male dominated fields. The landmark case in which the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex harassment claims were permissible involved an offshore oil worker.
However, same-sex discrimination suits do not account for the totality of the increase. More men are also reporting that they have been violated or propositioned by female superiors. In either case it is critical that the EEOC continue to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law. “The EEOC has a responsibility to send the message that such behavior is unacceptable no matter who is the victim or the perpetrator,” said Thomas.