Today's General Counsel, Fall 2019

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#MeToo Two Years Later Some Unintended Consequences By Helene J. Wasserman

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lthough Tarana Burke coined the term “me too” more than a decade ago to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault, it did not become a household phrase until two years ago, after allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein came to light. Since then #MeToo has empowered women to raise concerns they may not have felt comfortable revealing previously, while emasculating men who once believed they were invincible and untouchable. No industry has been immune. While Hollywood, media, sports and political figures accused of inappropriate conduct have garnered most of the publicity, corporate America has made its share of headlines and seemingly has been impacted just as hard, if not as publicly. However, the actual statistics regarding #MeToo and sexual harassment claims filed tell a somewhat different tale. For FY 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that 7,609 charges containing

Helene J. Wasserman practices exclusively in the area of labor and employment law. She appears before state and federal courts and administrative agencies and handles litigation matters, including trial practice, arbitration and mediation. She often works with clients and small businesses in the hospitality, staffing, construction and transportation industries.

sexual harassment allegations were filed, an increase of just under 1,000 from FY 2017. Interestingly, for FY 2010, the number was 7,944. A couple of other statistics provided by the EEOC are also illuminating. The percentages of “no cause” findings went up between 2010 and 2018 (50.8 percent in 2010 to 56.4 percent in 2018), and the percentage of “cause” findings went down during that same time period (8.7 percent in 2010 to 5.4 percent in 2018).

The number of merit resolutions went down, but the monetary value of those resolutions went up. The year-over-year statistical changes in the charges recorded by the EEOC are not as dramatic as one would have expected. Nevertheless, there have been some notable changes and consequences of #MeToo. MORE TRAINING, UPDATED POLICIES

In Littler’s 2019 Employer Survey of more than 1,300 in-house counsel, HR