Dems want details on prevalence of sexual harassment in financial sector

Dems want details on prevalence of sexual harassment in financial sector
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A group of female Democratic senators is demanding details on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the financial sector.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers Krystal Ball rips Warren's 'passive-aggressive' swipes at rivals MORE (Mass.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSanders revokes congressional endorsement for Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur Sanders endorses Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur for Katie Hill's former House seat Houston police chief stands by criticism of McConnell, Cruz, Cornyn: 'This is not political' MORE (Calif.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoSenate confirms Trump's 50th circuit judge, despite 'not qualified' rating Democrats challenge South Carolina law requiring voters to disclose Social Security numbers Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers MORE (Nev.) said in letters to the Securities Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority that the financial sector is "not immune" from harassment. 

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"The financial sector ... has had fewer public revelations of sexual harassment than other industries," the senators wrote.

"The silence appears to result from strong ‘cultural and financial forces' in the industry that discourage speaking out, including payout of large settlements with non-disclosure agreements to harassment victims, class-action prohibitions, and forced arbitration."

In their letters, the senators request information on what actions U.S. financial regulators are taking to crack down on such behavior.

Allegations of sexual misconduct against high-profile figures in politics, media and beyond have emerged in recent months, shedding new light on the prevalence of harassment in U.S. workplaces.

The finance and insurance industries had the ninth-highest number of sexual harassment claims between 2005 and 2015, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

But relatively few allegations have surfaced publicly in the sector since the "Me Too" movement gained traction last fall, with the bulk of media coverage focusing on allegations brought against politicians and figures in entertainment and media.

"This disparity is not, according to female employees, a sign that sexual harassment does not occur: in recent months, women in finance have anonymously reported being 'grabbed, kissed out of the blue, humiliated, and propositioned by colleagues and bosses' at work," the senators wrote, adding that the lack of public revelations appear to be due to "'cultural and financial forces'" within the industry.