In so many ways, it feels like we’re back in the 60’s and the Mad Men era where male executives were chasing their secretaries around their desks.
With all of the publicity surrounding the Gretchen Carlson/Roger Ailes lawsuit, which I blogged about here, WaPo media columnist Margaret Sullivan referenced a study done by Cosmopolitan magazine last year, which found that 1 in 3 American women said they had been sexually harassed at work, many by male managers. The vast majority said they never reported it.
One in three. Wow.
Ms. Sullivan writes here about a new TV series debuting this fall called “Good Girls Revolt.” She describes the show as “a little ‘Mad Men’ and a little ‘The Newsroom’” where women do research and their male colleagues get the bylines—all of this when “sexual harassment” was not a de rigueur term.
It had no name. It was just how things were.
But the 60’s are over right? This behavior should not occur anymore because it’s illegal.
Why wouldn’t today’s women report sexual harassment? It’s against the law and costs companies thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees and (sometimes) punitive damages. Because, all of you Ailes defenders who think Carlson’s claim is bogus, women may worry, and rightly so, that their careers may suffer as a result of reporting sexual harassment. Being viewed as a “complainer” is a strong deterrent.
Complaining to management about unlawful workplace discrimination—sexual harassment or otherwise—is “protected activity” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision prohibits supervisors and employers for employer from subjecting an employee to any adverse action when that employee has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by Title VII. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considers “opposition” to be complaining to anyone about alleged discrimination to oneself OR others.
As Rich reported here, retaliation remains a significant problem, which the EEOC is targeting and attempting to redress.
Takeaway: Have a complaint reporting procedure so that your employees may come forward without fear of retaliation.