Sex harassment claims in city quadrupled in 2017 from year before

Complaints of sexual harassment by San Diego city workers rose noticeably in 2017 from previous years, nearly quadrupling from the year before.

In 2017, workers made 19 formal complaints about sexual harassment to either the city’s Equal Employment Investigations Office or within city departments.

That’s the largest annual number in the past five years, and almost four times more than the five complaints filed in 2016, according to data provided by the city.

Overall, there were 55 complaints of sexual harassment filed since 2012, the third-most of the nine categories of discrimination the city catalogs. Only complaints of racial discrimination (94) and retaliation (86) exceeded complaints of sexual harassment.

The city produced the data following a Public Records Act request filed by The San Diego Union-Tribune. The request sought copies of all complaints of sexual harassment filed by city workers since 2012, as part of the newspaper’s efforts to document sexual harassment in the workplace in light of the #MeToo movement and the focus it has brought to sexual harassment.

A city spokeswoman said it’s not clear why there was a surge in sexual harassment complaints.

“The City investigates all EEO complaints that are brought to its attention and has not determined a reason for the number of complaints recently submitted,” spokeswoman Katie Keach said in an email.

The city initially denied the request because formal complaints filed with the office are confidential under city regulations. So the people who filed each complaint as well as the subject and a description of the harassment can’t be revealed.

The newspaper also requested in lieu of copies of complaints that the city provide a tally of the aggregate number of complaints of sexual harassment for the past five years.

The data did not specify individuals or departments and did not say what the outcome of the complaints or investigations were.

The second-greatest number of sexual harassment complaints came in 2013, when 11 were filed. That was the same year that former Mayor Bob Filner resigned amid a raft of accusations from women, including several city workers, that he had groped, manhandled and harassed them at City Hall.

State law requires sexual harassment prevention training for supervisors. Keach said that since 2015 the city has provided sexual harassment training to all employees, supervisory and non-supervisory.

She said that this year the city provided such prevention training to all 11,105 workers.

Have you been subjected to or witnessed sexual harassment at the city of San Diego, or any government office? What was your experience like? Share your story confidentially by phone or email with Greg Moran at (619) 293-1236; greg.moran@sduniontribune.com.

Twitter: @gregmoran

greg.moran@sduniontribune.com

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