#MeToo’s Impact on Sexual Harassment Law Just BeginningLaw360 July 11, 2018
Susan Gross Sholinsky, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, authored an article in Law360, titled “#MeToo’s Impact on Sexual Harassment Law Just Beginning.” (Read the full version – subscription required.)
Following is an excerpt:
On the heels of the sexual harassment and assault allegations against the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in the fall of 2017, the actor Alyssa Milano sent her tweet that kickstarted the #MeToo movement:
Suggested by a friend: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me Too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write “me too” as a reply to this tweet.
In less than 24 hours following this posting, the #MeToo hashtag was tweeted nearly half a million times, and a movement was born. Suddenly, thousands of women from all walks of life were openly asserting that they, too, had been victims of sexual harassment or assault. In the ensuing weeks and months, the movement’s momentum continued to grow as an increasing number of high-powered, high-profile men, from actors and politicians to judges and chefs, faced accusations of sexual harassment or assault, or both.
Many politicians responded to the #MeToo phenomenon with uncharacteristic speed. Within weeks of #MeToo going viral, local legislators across the country, as well as members of the U.S. Congress, were proposing a wide range of measures to address sexual harassment in the workplace. In just months from the inception of the #MeToo movement, some of these proposals became laws that impose new and significant obligations on employers.
These developments are relevant to all employers. However, they hold heightened importance for employers in certain industries, such as hospitality, retail and fast food, where employees may be lower-wage earners, receive tips and/or have direct contact with customers and clients. To this point, it bears noting that a well-funded sister movement of #MeToo, branded “TIMESUP,” is offering free legal assistance to women — particularly those in lower-wage and tip-reliant jobs — who lack the personal resources to bring sexual harassment claims against their employers.