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On this date in 1991, Anita Hill, a University of Oklahoma law professor, gave senate testimony accusing Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her when she had worked for Thomas years earlier when he was head of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). A media frenzy quickly arose around Hill's allegations and Thomas's denials.
When Thomas testified about Hill's claims before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he called the hearings "a high-tech lynching for uppity Blacks." To many, Hill's claims or those who opposed the Thomas nomination on other grounds, his appointment was a defeat.
The controversy had other long-term consequences beyond Thomas's life term on the Supreme Court. National awareness about sexual harassment in the workplace was significantly heightened. According to EEOC filings, in the five years that followed, sexual harassment cases more than doubled, from 6,127 in 1991 to 15,342 in 1996. Over the same period, awards to victims under federal laws nearly quadrupled, from $7.7 million to $27.8 million.