#metoo movement credited for 50 percent increase in sexual harassment lawsuits, EEOC says

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#metoo movement credited for 50 percent increase in sexual harassment lawsuits, EEOC says

David McNew/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Demonstrators participate in the #MeToo Survivors' March in response to several high-profile sexual harassment scandals on November 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. The protest was organized by Tarana Burke, who created the viral hashtag #MeToo after reports of alleged sexual abuse and sexual harassment by the now disgraced former movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

- In the wake of the #metoo movement, more people are filing sexual harassment claims against their employers, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

So far this year, the agency filed 66 harassment lawsuits, including 41 with allegations of sexual harassment, a more than 50 percent increase over the previous year. 

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“One of the overarching concerns that I’ve had over this past year is that with so much focus on these big celebrity-driven and media-driven pieces, (it might get lost that) the people who come to the EEOC are in mom-and-pop shops and small companies and everyday companies,” Victoria A. Lipnic, acting chair of the agency, told The Washington Post. “This stuff happens everywhere. If you don’t address it in your workplace, you could find yourself on the receiving end of a federal enforcement."

While overall, charges on all bases of discrimination are down, sexual harassment numbers are up 12 percent from the previous year as well, Lipnic said. 

“Quite honestly, as we’ve been putting this all together over the last week, I wasn’t sure what the numbers were going to show," she said. "I suspected there was an increase, but I think it absolutely reflects a greater willingness to report it and speak up about it.”

The commission has also recovered more than $70 million for victims this year, up from $47.5 million in 2017.

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