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Recent sexual harassment poll has some surprising findings

Sexual harassment in the workplace has received increasing attention in recent years -- in part thanks to the #Metoo movement, which took down some major players in entertainment, like Harvey Weinstein, and other industries. So why does a recent Gallup poll show that men in this country are less concerned about workplace harassment now than they were two years ago when that movement grabbed international headlines?

First, let's look at some of the key findings of the survey that was done in February of this year. When asked if they thought sexual harassment of women in the workplace was a major or minor problem, 53 percent of men said it was a major problem. That's down from 66 percent in October 2017. Among women, 70 percent said it was a major problem -- down just slightly from 73 percent in October 2017.

Those numbers are all still about 20 percent higher than they were in 1998, when Gallup first posed that question. That was during the scandal surrounding President Bill Clinton and allegations of sexual misconduct by multiple women.

The folks at Gallup can only speculate about why the percentage of men who consider workplace sexual harassment a significant problem has declined, even amid many high-profile sexual harassment allegations involving powerful men. It's possible that some have become desensitized as more women report harassment. Perhaps some feel more threatened.

More women reported this year that they'd been the victims of sexual harassment than they did in 2017 -- 48 percent compared to 42 percent. Certainly, men are victims of sexual harassment as well. However, women are four times more likely to say they have been than men. One can never know the real numbers.

There's some good news from this survey. Over half of men still say that they consider sexual harassment a serious problem. The uptick in the number of women identifying as victims may represent an increased willingness to acknowledge it. Laws have changed. The start of the new year brought four new laws in California to combat sexual harassment.

No matter where you live, it's essential to know your rights under the law and your employer's policies. If you've been the victim of sexual harassment, and your employer hasn't taken the appropriate steps to protect you and stop the harasser, it's wise to seek legal guidance from an experienced North Carolina attorney.

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