Workplace sexual harassment isn't always as simple or blatant as a manager, colleague or client making an unwanted sexual advance or proposal. Often, there's a "quid pro quo" element. This usually occurs when the harasser has some type of leverage over their victim.
It's been less than two years since the #MeToo movement began -- spurred largely by the allegations that became public (and ultimately took down) Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein. The reverberations have been felt not just throughout the entertainment industry, but in workplaces of all kinds throughout the country.
People often misinterpret the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to mean that they have freedom of speech in all aspects of their lives. The First Amendment prohibits people from facing arrest (with some exceptions, of course) for voicing their opinions. However, it doesn't prohibit private employers from taking disciplinary action (including termination) against employees for saying things that others may rightfully find offensive or that involve protected or confidential information.
If you sue a company because you suffered sexual harassment in the workplace, the most you can get in damages under federal law is $300,000. That's a pittance to large corporations. However, that's the cap written into the Civil Rights Act of 1991's Title VII, where sexual harassment is addressed. That amount hasn't been adjusted for inflation in the decades since that law was implemented -- even as the long-term repercussions for victims have become more openly discussed and better understood.
Sexual harassment in the workplace has received increasing attention in recent years -- in part thanks to the #Metoo movement, which took down some major players in entertainment, like Harvey Weinstein, and other industries. So why does a recent Gallup poll show that men in this country are less concerned about workplace harassment now than they were two years ago when that movement grabbed international headlines?
For better and worse, large corporations in America tend to set the workplace standards that other companies emulate. Unfortunately, one of America’s largest and best-known companies chose to send the wrong message about sexual assault and harassment in the workplace.