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  • Writer's pictureJennie Tannenbaum

Zoned Out After #MeToo Movement?

I had been driving along in my trusty car on familiar hometown roads when suddenly, and I’m not sure how long it had been, I was jolted into reality that I was in my car driving. My mind had wandered off from steering and avoiding squirrels in the road to other things. You know what I’m talking about. You get into the car head for a familiar destination and the next thing you know, you are there without even thinking about it. This made me wonder what was on my mind while zoned out. I was thinking about what the actual aftermath for employers and employees in America after almost two years of the #MeToo Movement was.


Unless you were zoned out too, you probably know that the #MeToo Movement empowered women to speak out about the sexual harassment they encountered in the workplace.

A survey was taken before the movement in 2016 and then again, a second survey after the movement in September 2018 which measured sexual harassment in three different categories. One category was labeled acts of unwanted sexual attention which includes staring, leering and unwanted touching. The second category labeled, sexual coercion, includes the non-physical pressuring of women to engage in sexual activity by other means such as bribery or trickery. The third category labeled, gender harassment, includes treating women poorly though not necessarily in a sexual way, examples include sexist remarks and sexist conversation.


The findings of the survey concluded that there was an overall decrease in the first two categories from the first survey to the second. Unwanted sexual attention declined from 66% to 25% for the women surveyed. Sexual coercion declined from 25% to 16% in those surveyed, while gender harassment increased from 76% to 92%. The group that conducted the survey interpreted the data and concluded that although there was a decline in sexual harassment there was a backlash effect resulting in increased hostility toward women as seen by the increase in percentage in gender harassment.


Now that none of us are zoned out and very much present, what should employers have already done or should be doing to safeguard individuals from sex-based harassment? Employers should have a clearly written sexual harassment policy in place in the company handbook indicating a clear zero tolerance policy as well as well defined policies regarding protocol detailing how to handle a complaint of sexual harassment, procedures for a through investigation into the complaint and disciplinary policy. Sexual harassment training should be mandated across the board from the head of the company to all the employees regardless of rank.


The #MeToo Movement should be the wake-up call to employers to protect the company and themselves from claims of sexual harassment.


If you don’t have a handbook or a sexual harassment policy, one can be drafted and customized for your company. If you have an existing handbook or sexual harassment policy, it should be reviewed and updated to ensure that it’s in compliance with the law and the best one for your company and your employees. Simply Good Law can help you with these matters.


This article is for information purposes only and is not meant to be construed as legal advice. For further information or discussion contact me at jennie@simplygoodlaw.com or at 978-681-0017.

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