Sexual harassers in the past managed to slither undetected from workplace to workplace, thanks to the anonymity offered by forced arbitration.
But times are changing.
President Joe Biden this week signed into law the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, landmark legislation that prevents employers from requiring workers to sign arbitration agreements that preclude them from filing in a lawsuit in court involving sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Biden called it a “momentous day for justice and fairness in the workplace.”
His assessment was affirmed by a rare lack of partisanship in Congress. The U.S. Senate approved the measure on a voice vote, which meant there was no opposition. There was a split roll call vote in the House of Representatives but it was approved by 222 Democrats and 113 Republicans. Yet, 97 House Republicans opposed the bill, including a number of women.
Why would a female legislator oppose something that protects women from violence in the workplace? The bill merely brings sexual harassment into the light of day by giving victims the right to go to court. Workers can still voluntarily opt to proceed with arbitration if they choose.
An upcoming book chronicles a loophole that allows federal judges to not only evade accountability for sexual harassment and bullying but to go on to enjoy a full salary for life and future professional acclaim.
Martha C. Nussbaum, in Citadels of Pride, to be published May 11 by W. W. Norton & Co., explores the tainted career of a former appellate judge who was celebrated for his brilliance, Alex Kozinski, a one-time chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.
Nussbaum, a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago, says the Kozinski case shows the “structural weaknesses” of judicial codes of conduct. “E]van an egregious abuser can survive for twenty years if he is bright, flamboyant, well-connected and shameless,” she writes.
The loophole that worked for Kozinski – and others – is that he was permitted to resign in 2017 after more than a dozen women accused him of sexual harassment. Because he was retired, he was eligible to receive his pension – which was his full salary – for the rest of his life.
The Democratic Party is effectively thumbing its nose at the #MeToo movement with its invitation to former President Bill Clinton to appear as a speaker at the Democratic Convention tonight.
The invitation also establishes a new bar of hypocrisy with regard to criticism by party officials of the sleazy history of Republican President Donald J. Trump.
On Tuesday, The Daily Mail, ran a photograph of a victim of the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein giving Clinton a neck massage in 2002. Clinton, then 56, had a sore neck after he reportedly fell asleep in a chair aboard Epstein’s private jet, otherwise known as the Lolita Express. The jaunty group was en-route to Africa on behalf of Clinton’s foundation to raise awareness about poverty and the AIDS crisis. Continue reading “The Democratic Convention Thumbs Its Nose At #MeToo”
A third of business executives surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report changing their behavior to avoid actions that might be perceived as sexual harassment.
James Banks Jr., general counsel of SHRM, says executives report they are being more mindful of language in the workplace, avoiding specific topics or joking and changing policies and trainings as a result of publicity about Harvey Weinstein and the “Me Too” movement.
Banks spoke at a roundtable convened by the EEOC earlier this month on preventing harassment in the workplace. SHRM is the largest organization of human resource professionals in the country, with 300,000 members who impact the lives of 115 million employees.
He says 62 percent of employers report they are “currently assessing their culture and identifying potential risks for sexual harassment, and 44 percent are developing or revising accountability measures.”
.According to Banks, human resource professionals should take the following steps to improve the workplace culture of their employer:
Add workplace civility training components to encompass behaviors that may not meet the definition of illegal conduct;
Tailor training to the organization’s workforce rather than relying on generic, out-of-the-box programming;
Ensure that culture starts at the top but doesn’t stop there, involving all employees in living the organization’s culture;
Add training to onboarding activities for ALL new hires, including the executive team.
POSTSCRIPT: It is encouraging, of course, that a third of executives are cleaning up their act on sexual harassment but it does raise a question about what the remaining two-thirds of executives are thinking.