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Sexual Harassment Cases Climb Despite Training

Much to the frustration of business, a survey released earlier this month by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) indicates that sexual harassment claims have more than doubled since 1995 -- even though an overwhelming majority of those surveyed (97%) have written policies against harassment and almost two-thirds (62%) provide sexual harassment prevention training. The number of sexual harassment complaints among the 496 companies that responded to the SHRM survey more than doubled from 182 in 1995 to 388 in 1997. What's more, the number of complaints in the first nine months of 1998 -- 364 -- were on pace to rise 13% for the full year for an overall rise of 140% in just three years. One possible reason: training among rank-and-file employees who typically file such claims averages 1.66 hours per year compared with between 2.48 hours and 2.58 hours of training for managers and executives. And the problem is clearly worse in smaller companies. SHRM survey data indicates that small businesses averaged nearly one claim per 100 employees in the first nine months of 1998 compared with one claim per 500 employees among large businesses. That may be related to the fact that only 51% of small businesses -- compared with 76% of large businesses -- said that they offered sexual harassment prevention training.

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