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Sexual harassment still a reality in the workplace

harassment, workplaceThe U.S. may be on the verge of electing the first woman president and women are making gains in the workplace, but the high-profile case involving a newswoman’s lawsuit against Fox News CEORoger Ailes has put a spotlight on an issue that experts say still remains an all-too frequent reality in the workplace: sexual harassment.

Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a complaint Wednesday alleging that Ailes made inappropriate overtures toward her. She also alleges that she endured sexist behavior from Steve Doocy, one of her former co-hosts on the programFox & Friends.  21st Century Fox says it has “full confidence” in Ailes and Doocy and has “commenced an internal review of the matter,” and in a statement Ailes said Carlson’s allegations are false.

While a case involving a TV personality and a powerful news executive garners headlines, surveys show that roughly one in four women say they have been harassed on the job. And with many victims too frightened to speak up, attorneys and employment experts say the actual number of such instances is likely far higher.

“Yes, we have more women in our society, in our culture, in high-profile and leadership roles,’’ says Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality at the National Women’s Law Center. “But a big reason why most people experiencing sexual harassment don’t come forward is there’s still a lot of fear.  As long as there is that threat of losing your job, of how you appear to your friends, your peers, that’s going to continue to keep this issue from being resolved.’’

Thin employer efforts to combat and deal with sexual harassment may be to blame for the prevalence of such claims. Following two Supreme Court cases in 1998,most employers have implemented policies regarding sexual harassment to shield themselves from liability if an employee claiming harassment fails to go through those steps to make their initial complaint. Despite the layers of laws, critics say many employer programs are too superficial to completely thwart such behavior.

Often such efforts are “a regulatory compliance issue that doesn’t have enough teeth,’’ says Beth Brascugli De Lima, a human resources consultant and head of HRM Consulting in Murphys, Calif., noting that in California, where a state law mandates supervisors undergo training, two-thirds of the classes are on the Internet. “It’s extremely difficult to have an effective sexual harassment training … if you’re not in the room with an individual, having to look across the table and hear the concern in (the) voice’’ of someone who feels they’ve been  harassed.

Read more about it here: http://usat.ly/2bmKtr0

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