Percentage of sex harassment complaints filed by men increasing

Posted in Sexual Harassment on May 2, 2014

Last month, we wrote about the fact that sexual harassment is often mistakenly thought of as a women’s issue. This kind of thinking can be destructive in a number of ways, both for male victims and the public at large.

Whenever news breaks of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a man against a female harasser, it is always met with some skepticism by both genders. There are stereotypes of what male and female “roles” are, and according to these stereotypes, men are never supposed to be the victims.

But it is important to remember that sexual harassment isn’t primarily about lust (and sometimes it has nothing to do with lust). Rather, it’s about one person asserting social or psychological power over another person by violating their personal boundaries. If a female boss sexually harasses a male subordinate, the exchange is more about workplace power dynamics than about gender. Additionally, sometimes men harass other men and women harass other women.

The good news is that male sexual harassment victims are growing increasingly willing to report the abuse. Consider the fact that in 2000, close to 15,900 sexual harassment complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and various state agencies. Of these, 13.6 percent were filed by men.

As of 2011, approximately 16.3 percent of complaints were filed by men. The number of male victims filing complaints increased (from the year 2000) even as overall complaint numbers declined.

Regardless of their gender, victims of sexual harassment often suffer stress, anxiety, depression, reduced job satisfaction and lower productivity. It is important for all workers – male and female – to understand that they have rights and that they don’t have to tolerate harassment.

Source: Oregon Live, “Young men increasingly complain of workplace violations: Teen sexual harassment,” Laura Gunderson, April 3, 2014