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Federal agencies see jump in sexual harassment suits after #MeToo

The #MeToo movement, created by a civil rights activist in 2017, has allowed women throughout the world to hold sexual abusers accountable on a global scale. In addition to social media shame, the movement has also led to legal consequences for the accused.

A bit of history: #MeToo sparks legal accountability

The creator of the movement intended to provide support for victims and encourage them to speak up and hold their abusers accountable for their criminal conduct. The movement was a success. #MeToo has led to hundreds of accusations of sexual assault. Some have moved forward and led to lawsuits and convictions while others have led to negotiations, settlements or dismissals.

More than just Hollywood: Movement spurs culpability in federal agencies

Cases involving Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Larry Nassar may have received the bulk of media attention, but they are only a few of the abusers accused during this movement. Those involving federal agencies include the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Mel Watt. He was accused of coercing relationships in exchange for promotions within the agency.

And this is just one example. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports sexual harassment claims filed by federal employees jumped 40% from 2016 to 2018. This means there are likely more than 400,000 sexual harassment claims annually.

It is important to note victims include members of both sexes. Data from the Merit Systems Protection Board reports 21% of claims filed involved female victims, 9% involved male victims.

Remedies are available: Hold abusers accountable

Although the process is different in a government position compared to those in the private sector, remedies are available to federal employees who are the victims of sexual harassment. Contact an attorney experienced in federal employee sexual harassment claims to discuss your options.

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