Workplace Sexual Harassment Complaints During a Recession

There are some things that happen together; you would never make the connection, or even think they belonged together; nevertheless, that’s how we discover the world works.

Take the case of sexual harassment; you always put it down to just another disappointing side to human nature that people should commit this kind of crime, until you read about how they found out that ever since the recession started two years ago, sexual-harassment workplace complaints have been on the rise – especially complaints from men.

That’s right, in the last year, about two out of every ten sexual-harassment complaints, have come from men – up from only one in ten before the recession began. It could mean that people are behaving worse than ever in public, or it could mean that men have learned to be more sensitive to things that have always happened.

The kind of tough locker room environment of hyper-masculinity, horsing around and the passing of vulgar comments for instance, is now the subject of actual sexual-harassment complaints often seen. And most of the time, people who make the complaint happen to be people who have been just laid off.

Take a snack foods manufacturer from Oklahoma; three men who were there filed complaints about sexual harassment at the workplace. When the company faced financial troubles a while later, they laid off a bunch of people, and these three complainants happened to be among them.

Now, all three are filing suit and they claim that they were fired because they spoke out. Now the relationship between a recession and more complaints seems to make sense. It is possible that, faced with a terrible job loss, some men wonder if it might be a way out claiming they were fired for making a sexual-harassment complaint.

If jobs were plentiful, these very same men might just go and find a new job instead of wasting time and money on litigation. That isn’t an option anymore, litigation seems with a pretty good deal.

This isn’t to say that they are lying at all. It just goes to show that when people have other options, they just don’t bother to speak out; when they don’t, they have to try everything at their disposal, to get a job back.

Reports from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission say that they can see that the states that have the biggest recession impacts, have the biggest spikes in male sexual-harassment workplace complaints.

Places like Michigan and California for example have worrisome unemployment and recession problems, and they also have the largest rises and lawsuits. Of course, that commission doesn’t really keep track of whether men have been reporting harassment more than women in these recession-prone states.

The chances aren’t very good for men who take it to court. Juries don’t really understand the whole being-groped-by-a-man scenario. If it were a woman complaining that, they’d run to side with the woman.

In Phoenix, Arizona, a college sophomore working for a local pizza chain had recurring trouble being groped by his supervisor at work. This educated young man who knows all about sexual harassment and how there are laws for such things, still tried to keep it quiet because he didn’t want anyone to be thinking of him that way.

The restaurant just settled with him and a couple of other employees who claimed similar sexual-harassment workplace scenarios. If they had gone to court, they would probably not have won. And companies are facing the new reality of male harassment by putting out orientation programs that alert them that they can be targets just as often as women.