Last week one of the managers at my company was terminated. His exit was swift. One day he was here the next day he was noticeably absent. After a long investigation, the company terminated his employment due to Sexual Harassment. Allegedly he harassed multiple women at the company, including at least one of his direct reports. While his team is protecting the woman he harassed, they have been very vocal about their pleasure in the company’s actions and his termination of employment here.
I’m willing to put money on it that, if asked, nearly every working woman could cite an experience of being harassed in the workplace. Whether it was the creepy guy who always started at your breasts, or the drunken co-worker who tried to take things to another level at the company holiday party, or the man who thought that keeping a calendar of scantily-clad women on his desk was perfectly acceptable. With the lines of what is unlawful sexual harassment and what is just inappropriate workplace behavior, what defines sexual harassment remains blurred between black and white.
Sure, many of us haven’t had to endure extreme and unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace. I’ve never been touched inappropriately at work or told explicit sexual comments. But I do know women that have been the victims of overt sexual harassment. And sadly, most of these women never reported the man that violated their safety at work. Afraid of the repercussions, many women chooseto leave the company without so much as a mention of the incidents. Not only did they have to put up with the harassment, they now had to deal with the stresses of changing companies… and leaving their perpetrator free and clear to harass another victim.
I feel enormously proud of the woman who stepped forward in this case. By going to HR with a formal complaint, an investigation was launched. During that investigation, other women stepped forward with similar complaints. I don’t know if those women would have come forward on their own volition. Ultimately, the guy got what he deserved — fired for his inappropriate behavior with a mark in his record to ensure he could never work for this company again. And the women, who all kept their anonymity, continue to work for the company without fear of judgment or retaliation.