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Shielding Sexual Harassers Will No Longer Be Tolerated

Oftentimes, victims of sexual harassment are hesitant to come forward because they fear retaliation. They also believe that the alleged perpetrator will escape punishment. While times are changing, this outlook isn't completely off-base. Recent sexual harassment news regarding Fox News and the University of California demonstrate that we still have work to do in this area.

Ailes and Fox News

Prior to his recent death, Fox News creator Roger Ailes was facing numerous lawsuits, as well as a federal investigation in relation to sexual harassment claims and payoffs by the news organization. Initial skepticism of the first few claims quickly gave way, as a slew of new information revealed a pervasive culture of sexual harassment behind closed doors at Fox News, and the tacit acceptance of that behavior. But once again, daylight is the best antiseptic. And the more the public learns, the faster we can put a stop to this type of behavior.

Shielding High-Level Professionals at UC

In March of this year, University of California finally responded to a Bay Area news group records request. UC released records identifying more than 100 incidents of sexual misconduct by staff, across 9 campuses. But UC didn't exactly champion the public's right to know with this release. Instead they chose to shield many of the perpetrators by blacking out names and much of the pertinent data. The school cited right to privacy for these actions.

Of special note was the pattern observed in these redactions. Over and over again, it was the higher-level employees whose privacy was shielded, while many low-profile workers didn't enjoy the same protection. Also troubling is that UC took sixteen months to respond to the records request, not what one thinks of as a "prompt" response as is required by California law. Public pressure can only help change these unsettling practices.

Moving in the Right Direction

Workers should take note of the increased attention these cases are receiving and take heart. Both the law and public perception are evolving in a positive direction. Employees who speak up about their sexual harassment experiences are gaining an increasingly louder voice. And even when the company fails to do the right thing, other avenues are available to enforce compliance with the law.

Remaining silent is simply not an option. If you are struggling with a hostile work environment created by a culture of inappropriate behavior and sexual innuendo, speak out. If you have been subjected to unwelcome sexual advancements and other unacceptable behavior of a sexual nature from a supervisor or co-worker, report it. Don't accept complacency, compliance or outright obstruction of the law.

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