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Workplace sexual harassment of males on the rise

It happens in Newport Beach workplaces and in offices across the nation. As so many women know, sexual harassment can begin with what can seem like an innocent pat on the arm, an offhand remark or a moment of being brushed against in an elevator. "Joking" or "flirtatious" comments and "accidental" physical encounters can quickly escalate to unacceptable levels of frequency and familiarity.

A recent article on sexual harassment points out that in an increasing number of cases, targets of unwanted advances are male rather than female. 

In 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other agencies collecting data on sexual harassment complaints said 13.6 percent of those claims were filed by males. The data for the most recent year available, 2011, shows that figure has risen to 16.3 percent.

Several noteworthy cases involving sexual harassment of men include:

  • A movie theater chain that agreed to $765,000 in compensation for 14 male teens who had been sexually harassed by supervisors making sexual comments to them and making advances as well.
  • A New Mexico company that operates McDonald's franchises agreed to compensate a group of teenaged males who had come forward to complain that their male supervisor not only made offensive sexual comments to them, but groped them as well.
  • Four young male employees of a hotel company received $370,000 after they reported instances of sexual harassment by a male supervisor.

An attorney for the EEOC says there is "a persistent misconception" that sexual harassment is exclusively male-on-female. He urges workers, male and female, to know their rights and the rules of workplace conduct and safety.

Those who have been sexually harassed should understand that a system is in place to protect them, their rights and their careers. An employment law attorney can guide a victim through that legal process.

Source: oregonlive.com, "Young men increasingly complain of workplace violations: Teen sexual harassment," Laura Gunderson, April 3, 2014

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