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How can a hashtag influence the law?

Employers often struggle with questions about how to provide a safe workplace environment. This is especially true in hotels, where mainly female housekeepers must enter rooms alone to clean, not knowing what, or who, awaits their passage through a locked door.

The #MeToo movement raised awareness of sexual harassment nationwide. In addition to individual impact, this forced many employers to revisit workplace policies, increase employee training, and strengthen safety and security measures.

Employee protection in the palm of your hand

The city of Sacramento will soon require hotels to provide panic buttons for their housekeeping staff. Though this is not the first bill geared toward employee protection, the effects of the movement continue to influence places of employment throughout the United States.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released data for 2019. Numbers suggest that the movement is continuing to make a difference in employment law. However, data may also set the stage for necessary changes in the future.

What does EEOC data suggest?

Reports of workplace sexual harassment decreased slightly from 2018 to 2019. However, the size of related financial recoveries increased by more than 20%.

While the EEOC does not make determinations on filed charges of sexual harassment, data could suggest possibilities that since the movement began:

  • Inappropriate behaviors decreased
  • Employee training programs are becoming more effective
  • Workplace harassment is being taken more seriously

It is also important to note that although the #MeToo movement began with women’s response to harassment and discrimination in the workplace, men initiated nearly 16% of sexual harassment charges filed in 2019.

Employers can take steps to minimize harassment reports

Initially, women joined together to fight against sexual harassment. Though their efforts likely encouraged changes in employee protection, employers must continue to develop policies and procedures in the best interest of those who report to them.

Sexual harassment prevention training may minimize employee complaints of maltreatment at work. Meanwhile, it could also reduce negative press about your company and save you from dedicating your resources to a battle in court.

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