Sexual Harassment as a Hard-hitting Headline
From Harvey Weinstein to Louis C.K. and now Matt Lauer and three recent firings at Vice Media, and the shocking reports of Kevin Spacey making unwanted advances on a 14-year-old boy, headlines have been full of allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, sexual misconduct and other related claims of nonconsensual sex and conduct have been hard to miss in the media. These cases all have something major in common: they are allegations against men in power against others in the workplace that had a lower position that caused concern in coming forward.
With power dynamics finally shifting in the workplace against such conduct, there is more of a safe haven and space for those who have been victimized to come forward, showcasing a culture of sexual misconduct in Hollywood. However, these allegations are not limited to Hollywood. Instead, many face similar situations in their own places of work from retail employees being harassed by management to higher level women in large corporations being coerced with promises of better jobs if they should agree to the conduct. While many argue that the lower positions agreed to the acts, being coerced into sexual favors with further employment as a reward is still considered sexual harassment in the workplace.
Recent Allegations in Headlines
Reports of Bill Cosby started the conversation years ago, but a slew of allegations has emerged after Harvey Weinstein was accused of nearly three decades worth of testimonies by women over his career as a powerful Hollywood producer has prompted more women and men to come forward with their stories. Most recently, Vice Media has fired three employees this past Thursday, November 30th, over sexual harassment and improper workplace conduct.
While the company has not named the employees that were fired, it has come forward with a statement that reads, “the conduct of these employees ranged from verbal and sexual harassment to other behavior that is inconsistent with our policies, our values, and the way in which we believe colleagues should work together.” In the other recent allegations, the focus has been on high-level producers in Hollywood. But recent allegations have put the focus on the same media companies that have been reporting on the alleged conduct, with Matt Lauer making headlines recently, as well.
Lauer was terminated from his position at NBC after alleged victims came forward with narratives that collaborated a pattern of behavior that is considered inappropriate and abusive. In one report, the former co-host of NBC Today offered a colleague a sex toy as a present with an explicit note of what he wished to do with the gift. Further, he had asked a separate female employee to his office then exposed himself from the waist down.
NBC replaced Lauer after having him on the air for two decades and has been prudent in reporting on the incidents despite the conduct having occurred in their own workplace. Lauer has not released a statement, after years of covering his behavior by inviting women to his hotel room while traveling and having a button installed under his desk to allow him to lock his door from his desk.
Protecting Your Rights in the Workplace
These allegations are not limited to media companies and Hollywood. Anyone can find themselves victim to sexual harassment in the workplace, regardless of their position and industry. With recent headlines, the best time to come forward with your own experiences of sexual harassment is now. The first thing someone should do when they are made uncomfortable in the workplace or have been outwardly harassed or physically touched in a non-consensual manner is to report the behavior.
When you report the behavior, be sure to have documentation of the meeting and report. If your HR department doesn’t offer a document, be prudent in getting a copy and be sure to email your attempts for a copy as to have some documentation against the allegations. Further, keep a diary and try to get photographs or video of the behavior, when possible. If you are being harassed at work, contact our team at Bochetto & Lentz today. We are on your side and will fight for justice on your behalf.