<![CDATA[Susan Fowler, writing for the New York Times, notes that it is now abundantly clear that sexual harassment is pervasive in every industry. While getting rid of it will not be easy, we now know some facts that will help:
- We have to stop the practice of forced arbitration as a condition of employment. Forced arbitration takes away our rights to sue in court and can legally bind us to keep silent about what has happened to us. A recent Supreme Court decision confirming that employers can continue this practice means that we need new federal legislation to make this change.
- We need legislation at the state and federal levels to protect employees.
- Some progress has been made at the state level in Washington state and California.
- We need much more progress at the federal level, including new legislation to eliminate forced arbitration as a condition of employment.
- Existing law only covers workplaces with fifteen or more employees.
- Federal statutes of limitations for filing a claim can be as short as 180 days.
- Damages can be capped at $300,000.
- Weak laws fail to protect women.
- Corporate policies and procedures protect the company but not the employees.
- Secret settlements protect offenders and keep patterns of abuse out of the public eye.
- Human resources departments focus on protecting organizations from legal liability rather than protecting employees.
- No consensus exists on how to report a repeat offender who goes from job to job or to address more minor infractions with measures short of suspension or firing.
- Low wage workers are now more willing to speak up about sexual harassment, but it’s not clear who they should tell.
3 thoughts on “Why Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Is So Difficult to Stop”
Great analysis. Vote for change!!!
From many years of experience inside and then outside of organizations, and also many stories from others: “Human resources departments focus on protecting organizations from legal liability rather than protecting employees.” – THIS is a huge one. In the 80’s I worked in a big high-tech company in the HR Dept and we were TRULY employee advocates (although even then there were strong/independent HR managers and also weak/spineless HR managers…..) Now no one even has the illusion of that.
HR needs to be totally overhauled to change this – and in many (most) places of business, HR was gutted years ago and replaced with 1-800- Call-HR phone calls. Someone needs to be holding these men accountable. But who??
Thanks, Jeanette. It is so sad to read of the impact of the changes in HR over the years. It’s helpful to hear your experience from the inside of the profession!