After implementing a new protocol for city departments in reporting sexual harassment, Los Angeles received almost as many sexual harassment claims in two months as it did in the previous five years.

Between mid-December and mid-February, Los Angeles’ personnel department received 26 claims of sexual harassment, the Los Angeles Times reports. Between 2013 and 2017, the city received 35 reports of sexual harassment.

The increase comes with changes in the city’s sexual harassment reporting system, Southern California Radio Station KPCC reports. As of Dec. 15, all city departments must report sexual harassment incidents in their departments within 48 hours of hearing about them. This includes complaints from employees, customers, visitors, volunteers and contractors, according to MyNewsLA.

"We have a more accurate picture of what’s going on in the city," Wendy Macy, general manager of personnel for the city, said while discussing a report on the latest harassment data, per KPCC. "We don't see it as a spike; we see it as a very good thing. It allows us ... to keep track of what's going on."

Previously, the city didn’t have a centralized tracking system for sexual harassment claims, according to MyNewsLA. Departments would thus handle complaints internally, which made the prevalence of sexual harassment in the city difficult to assess.

City officials have already voiced the need for further improvement of sexual harassment reporting practices. At a city council meeting on Feb. 21, Councilman Mitchell Englander, whose office was involved in a sexual harassment settlement in recent years, said that additional information about employees accused of sexual harassment should be reported, KPCC reports. Such information would include details on disciplinary action taken towards such employees.

"These aren’t numbers on a page. These are potentially victims," Englander said, per KPCC. "I think we need to look at it very carefully from that perspective."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti initially pursued changes to the city’s sexual harassment reporting policies after news of movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse accusations came to light in 2017, the Times reports. Garcetti has also called for the formation of a working group that will examine the city’s new harassment reporting protocols, according to KPCC.

Since July 2011, Los Angeles has paid out over $8 million in sexual harassment claims and judgments, according to MyNewsLA.

 

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