With EEOC’s Involvement, More Sex Harassment Suits Are Likely

HR Dive

David W. Garland, Member of the Firm and Chair of the firm’s National Employment, Labor & Workforce Management Steering Committee, authored an article in HR Dive, titled, “With EEOC’s Involvement, More Sex Harassment Suits Are Likely.”

Following is an excerpt:

For months, there has been a flurry of news stories growing out of the #MeToo movement, some of which we’ve written about in this column. But there had not been a noticeable spike in the filing of sex harassment lawsuits.  Now, however, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has unleashed of a series of sex harassment lawsuits across the country — and additional litigation may therefore follow.

Last month, the agency filed seven lawsuits against different employers from Birmingham, Alabama, to San Diego, alleging that each of them had allowed harassment in their workplaces. In a press release announcing the filings, EEOC stated that its action “should reinforce to employers that harassment — on all bases — is a violation of federal law.”

“There are many consequences that flow from harassment not being addressed in our nation’s workplaces,” EEOC acting chair Victoria A. Lipnic added, and the lawsuits filed by the EEOC “are a reminder that a federal enforcement action by the EEOC is potentially one of those consequences.”

Virtually all of the lawsuits contained similar allegations. Male supervisors engaged in verbal harassment of female subordinates, using sexually charged language. In some, the EEOC alleged, the male managers called their female employees “sluts,” “whores,” and “cows.” There was inappropriate touching and aggression. When female employees complained, the companies allegedly failed to take appropriate action, either to investigate or to otherwise address the alleged hostile environment.