While the Me Too movement only recently gained widespread news coverage, the initiative actually began over ten years ago. But it transformed into a viral campaign in October 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter to invite those who have experienced sexual harassment to respond with “Me too.” Milano’s speaking out came in the wake of an investigation into sexual harassment and assault allegations made against movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
According to a recent analysis by Boston University Law student Kathleen White, by the end of the morning that Milano’s tweet was posted, more than 12 million people had engaged with #MeToo across social media.
On the heels of Me Too, the Time’s Up movement was started by a group of over 300 women in Hollywood, with high-profile leaders like Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman and Shonda Rimes. The Time’s Up movement specifically aims to combat employment-related issues.
The MeToo Effect
Effects of #Me Too can be seen on the rising number of gender discrimination and sexual harassment claims reported by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC) – the federal administrative agency tasked with handling these cases. In an October 2018 press release, the EEOC disclosed its “Sexual Harassment Data” for the fiscal year. The agency announced more than a 50% increase in suits challenging sexual harassment over fiscal year 2017.
According to Ms. White, the EEOC’s announcement explicitly tied the increase in sexual harassment lawsuits to “the heightened demand of the #MeToo movement.”
2018 saw more than 7,500 charges of sexual harassment filed with the EEOC, up 12% from 2017, and the first increase in such charges in at least eight years.
Dollar Value and #Me Too
The dollar value assigned to a gender-discrimination or sexual harassment claims has increased. Since the development of the MeToo and Times Up movements, attorneys for employers and management realize that their clients may pay more for the resolution of gender discrimination or sexual harassment case than they might have before.
Incentive to Settle
While there is always an incentive to settle and avoid the long and costly process that comes with a trial, the extremely public nature of Me Too and Time’s Up has created an additional incentive to do so, and to do so earlier, observed Ms. White. Especially through the use of social media, these movements started a very public discussion about the previously more private issue of sexual harassment.
Furthermore, advisory firm FTI Consulting reports “roughly 55 percent of professional women are less likely to apply for a job at a company facing public allegations of #MeToo improprieties…and nearly half of professional women are less likely to buy products or stock from such companies.”
If you are being sexually harassed at work in New Hampshire please call our experienced sexual harassment attorneys for assistance at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form.