The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that of the thousands of complaints of sexual harassment it receives every year, 17 percent are filed by men. Meanwhile, more than half of women in the workplace report enduring some form of sexual harassment. Although there is no denying that sexual harassment is unacceptable no matter the victim or offender’s gender, instances involving men are beginning to garner more media attention. Although men are less likely to endure sexual harassment, they sometimes have an even steeper uphill battle in getting their employer to take it seriously because certain stereotypes would suggest males welcome this kind of attention. The fact is, they do not and the law makes no distinction.
Recently, a county sheriff’s officer in Michigan filed a federal employment lawsuit alleging his female boss sexually harassed him and that his male supervisors laughed it off. In one case, an undersheriff told him to, “Take one for the team.” Instead, he took it to court.
Rather than suing his alleged harasser, though, he is taking on his employer for reportedly failing to act on his plea for help. According to court records, his boss reportedly taunted him for more than a year with comments that were sexually-charged an inappropriate. She advanced on him with unwanted behavior of a sexual nature. In one instance, he alleges she offered to give him oral sex. In another instance, she suggested to him getting his wife intoxicated and engaging them both in a sexual act. She also allegedly gave his work partners phony assignments so she would have opportunities to be alone with him. She also reportedly texted his personal cell phone and made it a point to drive by his home.
The EEOC reports the percentage of sexual harassment complaints filed by male workers has more than doubled over the last two decades. It went from about 8 percent in 1990 to 17 percent as of 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available. There were a total of 1,165 males who reported sexual harassment that year, as compared to nearly 5,700 women. On average, there are 1,200 claims of sexual harassment filed by American men annually. The actual number of instances of sexual harassment involving men are believed to be much higher (same for women) due to the stigma that’s associated with it. In particular for men, sexual harassment lawyers know men experience shame and are reticent to come forward. There is often genuine surprise that men would even file such a complaint. The reality is it is just as serious as offenses involving female victims.
One major mistake made by some employers is assuming – or in some cases even arguing – that men shouldn’t be offended by this type of workplace harassment when it’s perpetuated by females. But the law views the rights of workers the same.
In this case, plaintiff said that when he complained, the accused harasser retaliated against him by accusing him of sexual assault. Although he was not criminally charged, he was suspended for a time and ultimately demoted to “desk duty,” which cost him a pay cut of $10,000 annually. Both he and the accused are still employed at the same agency.
In our experience, the majority of sexual harassment victims – male or female – don’t want to file a lawsuit. They simply want the harassment to stop and to be allowed to continue working. In many cases, our attorneys can help victims effect this by helping guide them through the appropriate steps to take to properly put the employer on notice, while still protecting the worker’s rights. If appropriate action is not forthcoming, we can help guide plaintiffs through the legal process.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.
Cop says female boss sexually harassed him, sues county, Jan. 3, 2017, By Tresa Baldas, USA Today
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