August 17, 2011
Strauss-Kahn and Office Harassment
With the media frenzy surrounding the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, how will it affect women in the workplace when it comes to sexual harassment?
Some expect the case against the former International Monetary Fund head to help break the code of silence about workplace sexual harassment and aggression from powerful men.
Despite attacks on the woman's credibility, “this case has cast a spotlight on the pervasiveness of workplace sexual harassment and assault,” Linda Meric, national director of 9 to 5, tells PINK. “In standing up for her rights, the accuser set a powerful example for other women experiencing harassment or assault, no matter [their] occupations or industries."
Like Strauss-Kahn, many high-profile men seem to be getting a pass: in the aftermath of their scandals, Anthony Weiner went to rehab and Arnold Schwarzenegger hopped a plane to Austria. But the women aren’t tolerating their bad behavior. Maria Shriver filed for divorce, Weiner’s pregnant wife moved out and Kahn's ordeal motivated other alleged victims of his to speak out.
When reporting harassment, “the first thing is to say to the [offender] that his actions are unwelcome,” says Justine Lisser, attorney at the EEOC. (The organization’s data shows charges of sexual harassment have been steadily declining over the past decade.) She then recommends reporting harassment to HR or a supervisor.
“It's a good idea to keep track of the dates, times and circumstances of the harassment and the steps taken to complain about it,” adds Lisser.
Need someone to talk to about work harassment? The Job Survival Helpline for women can talk you through the steps to take. Plus, you can learn more about the definitions of sexual harassment from the Equal Rights Advocates.
Bonus PINK Link: Check out our expert blogger’s take on men behaving badly.
By Cynthia Good
"Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles." Ralph Waldo Emerson
*Supporting images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net, photostock and Salvatore Vuono