Workplace Sexual Harassment Statistics

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  • 1:08 Charges by Sex
  • 1:46 Reasonable Cause Determination
  • 3:06 Merit Resolutions
  • 4:19 Conciliation
  • 4:56 Administrative Closures
  • 5:41 Monetary Benefits
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Lesson Transcript
Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Expert Contributor
Joseph Shinn

Joe has a PhD in Economics from Temple University and has been teaching college-level courses for 10 years.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with investigating claims of workplace sexual harassment. It collects statistics on its investigations. In this lesson, we'll take a look at workplace sexual harassment statistics collected by the EEOC.

Charges Filed With EEOC

An employee who believes that she is a victim of sexual harassment has a right to file a charge of workplace sexual harassment with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) who will then investigate the charge. The EEOC collects statistics on its charges, so let's take a look at them.

In 2014, 6,862 workplace sexual harassment charges were filed with the EEOC. The EEOC received 7,944 charges in 2010, 7,809 in 2011, 7,571 charges in 2012 and 7,256 charges of workplace sexual harassment in 2013. As you can see, we have a downward trend in the filing of charges of workplace sexual harassment. Keep in mind, however, many victims never file charges, and the downward trend doesn't necessarily mean workplace sexual harassment is a diminishing problem in the workplace.

Charges by Sex

The EEOC also tracks the sex of the charging party, which is the person that is making a charge of workplace sexual harassment. From 2010 to 2014, males filed as little as 16.1% of the charges and as much as 17.6%. Needless to say, women filed the majority of the claims. However, we should be cautious about these numbers. It's possible that male victims simply do not feel comfortable filing a charge of sexual harassment.

Reasonable Cause Determination

At the completion of its investigation of the employee's charge, the EEOC will determine whether reasonable cause exists to believe that workplace sexual harassment has occurred. From 2010 to 2014, a little over 50% of the charges of workplace sexual harassment resulted in a determination of no reasonable cause with a high of 54.3% in 2012 and a low of 50.8% in 2010. It's important to note, however, that a charging party that receives a finding of no reasonable cause does have the right to sue in court, and the statistics reported here do not include the results of such litigation.

We also see a downward trend in reasonable cause determinations from the period of 2010 through 2014, with 8.7% of the charges resolved in 2010 finding reasonable cause but only 6.1% of charges leading to a determination of reasonable cause in 2014. You may be surprised that we find such a small percentage of reasonable cause determinations for workplace sexual harassment given that the EEOC found a little over 50% of the charges were not supported by reasonable cause. You may be wondering what happened to the rest of the charges. Let's see why the two numbers don't add up to 100%.

Merit Resolutions

Oftentimes, the EEOC's investigation is cut short before it makes a reasonable cause determination. Merit resolutions are an example, which, according to the EEOC, are charges with outcomes favorable to the charging parties and/or charges with meritorious allegations. In fact, about 25% of all charges of workplace sexual harassment result in some form of merit resolution during 2010 through 2014. Let's take a look at merit resolutions that may be reached before a reasonable cause determination is made:

Negotiated settlements are settlements facilitated by the EEOC that result in some benefit to the charging party. These settlements may occur prior to a reasonable cause determination. About 11% of charges were resolved through negotiated settlements from 2010 through 2014.

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Additional Activities

Additional Questions

Go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website and locate the "EEOC Enforcement and Litigation Statistics" data by year. Once you locate this data, answer the following questions.

  1. On a national level, describe the general trend of the number of charges filed by year from 2000 through 2018. Was there an increasing trend over the entire period, a decreasing trend, no trend, or some combination? If there was a combination over different time periods, discuss these time periods.
  2. In 2018, how many sexual harassment charges were made? How does this relate to 2010?
  3. What percentage of sexual harassment charges that were made in 2018 were made by males? Has there been a trend in this statistic from 2010 through 2018? If so, explain the trend.
  4. Discuss the trends between 2010 and 2018 in outcomes where it was determined the claim was made with "reasonable cause" versus "no reasonable cause." If there was a trend, why do you believe this trend existed?
  5. Between 2010 and 2018, the number and percentage of cases that resulted in resolutions steadily declined. However, the total monetary benefits steadily increased during this period. What do these trends indicate about the average amount of the monetary benefits received? Why do you believe these contradictory trends occurred?

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