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Guess who else is invoking #MeToo: the EEOC

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The #MeToo social media movement has been wildly successful at shining a spotlight on the sexual harassment women often experience at work. The hashtag began gathering momentum on Oct. 15, 2017 with a single Twitter post by actress Alyssa Milano, who wrote, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

Now the EEOC has begun using #MeToo in press releases announcing sexual harassment litigation.

It’s a savvy social media play. The hashtag is sure to raise the profile of these cases, which should worry employers that find themselves the subject of an EEOC harassment investigation. Before, EEOC statements were mainly of interest to a relatively small community of attorneys and HR executives. Now the #MeToo tag could send allegations of sexual harassment rocketing through the social media universe.

The most recent target to feel the sting of the EEOC’s #MeToo tag: SMX, a staffing firm that supplied workers for a Proctor & Gamble manufacturing plant in Kansas.

An EEOC statement released in early February told the tale of a female worker who complained that a manager repeatedly called her “baby” and asked her for sex in exchange for paid time off. She refused and told another supervisor, who allegedly responded, “Screw him, take the extra pay.” A complaint to a third supervisor prompted an internal investigation, but no action.

That’s when she quit and went to the EEOC, which has now filed a lawsuit on her behalf.

Advice: Want to keep the EEOC off your back and your name off social media? Review your sexual harassment policies and processes.

Is it easy for employees to file internal complaints? Is there more than one way to do so? Do supervisors know what to do if employees complain to them about harassment?

Is HR equipped and empowered to investigate harassment and make it stop?

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