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October 12, 2017

What Does A Typical Sexual Harasser Look Like? We Don’t Know.

Like clockwork, as one workplace sexual harassment scandal fades from the news, another story emerges to take its place. The contours are generally the same: a powerful man, whether it’s at Uber, at Fox News or in Hollywood, sexually harasses his colleagues for decades and faces no real repercussions until his behavior makes the headlines.

Sexual harassment and the protection gap for Chicago’s low-wage workers

Regardless of where we end up, most of us enter the workforce through low-wage service jobs. They are a critical acculturation experience that shape employees' expectations of acceptable behavior throughout their working lives. The Chicago-based Coalition Against Workplace Sexual Violence, which I co-founded, just released a report detailing low-wage workers' experiences of sexual violence and the inadequacies of existing responses to address it.

Fox Ousts Bill O’Reilly, But Will Its Workplace Culture Change?

But over time, court rulings prompted businesses to affirmatively respond to sexual harassment in the workplace. Many companies established anti-harassment policies with complaint procedures, and some trained employees, supervisors and management on what constituted inappropriate behavior. I was an employment attorney, specializing in harassment, discrimination and workplace safety. Even with my expertise, and with an anti-harassment policy in place, I was subjected to sexual harassment by a client and then encouraged to participate in the “harmless flirting” in order to keep the client happy.

What I experienced was not the exception – it was the norm.

It’s Not Just Fox: Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Harassment

A male colleague grabbing her leg. Another one suggestively rubbing her back. Others at work dinners discussing who they’d want to sleep with.

Jane Park talked about experiencing all of this behavior in her career in business consulting and strategy. Never has she reported any of it to human resources or management.

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