Workplace Culture

The Supposed #MeToo Backlash Is Just Discrimination By Another Name

By Jon Hyman

Sep. 10, 2019

A recent study suggests that there has been a backlash against the #MeToo movement.

According to  the Harvard Business Review, men are treating their females co-workers differently because of #MeToo.

  • 19 percent of men said they were reluctant to hire attractive women.
  • 21 percent said they were reluctant to hire women for jobs involving close interactions with men.
  • 27 percent said they avoided one-on-one meetings with female colleagues.
This isn’t a #MeToo problem. It’s the problem that #MeToo is trying to fix. Indeed, Harvard Business Review could rewrite its headline to read, “More than one in four men admit to discriminating against female co-workers.”
Can women falsely accuse their male colleagues of sexual harassment? Absolutely … just as they could before the #MeToo movement. And just as men can falsely accuse women, and women each other, and men each other.

False accusations of harassment are not a #MeToo problem. They are systemic in any system that relies on employees to self-police and report misconduct via complaints. The remedy isn’t sexually segregated workplaces. The remedy is thorough and complete investigations of all complaints of harassment, and appropriate punishment for those who are found to have lodged false complaint.

The risk of false harassment complaints is not an excuse for sexual segregation at work. Instead, the risk of sexual segregation is the reason to double down on efforts to root out and end sexual harassment and other sex discrimination.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at JHyman@Wickenslaw.com.

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