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CRF Blog » Blog Archive » Silencing Sexual Harassment

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Silencing Sexual Harassment

by Bill Hayes

In The Silencing of Sexual Harassment, Businessweek reports on one reason that the number sexual harassment claims is down.

While the number of sexual harassment charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have been going down since 2008 — falling to 11,717 in fiscal year 2010 from a 1997 peak of 15,889 — lawyers say those figures are misleading. The reason: More companies are requiring new hires to agree to arbitrate complaints, including sexual harassment, as a condition of getting a job. Arbitration proceedings are usually confidential, and settlements are secret. “Just looking at the number of claims filed doesn’t have the same meaning it did 15 years ago,” says Los Angeles lawyer Gloria Allred. “In mediation, no one even knows about the fact that there was an allegation, except the opposing parties. I’m left with burning secrets I can never disclose.” Allred has made a career out of representing women with claims against high-profile men, including Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A current client: one of the four women who have accused Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain of harassing them while he was head of the National Restaurant Assn. Cain has denied the accusations. [more]