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The #MeToo movement is now ten years old. For the past decade there has been increasing public support for women who stand up to unwanted treatment and sexual harassment instigated by male supervisors, colleagues, teachers, and employers. During those ten years, the societal response to women who have been the victims of such illegal behavior should have moved from one of blame to one of support. In many cases this is true–victims have been encouraged to speak out and the public response has matured from one of shaming the victims to shaming the perpetrators…or has it?
If we scan the headlines over recent years, we see the discreditation of public figures; think Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Leslie Moonves, and the list goes on. These were men who were successful in their careers and used those empowered positions to the detriment of subordinate women. Sometimes their actions were debased and overt; sometimes they were much more subtle. Some of the offenders make excuses along the lines of, “I asked permission…” or “I thought it was consensual…” but when there is a power differential, the subordinate player may feel that their career is on the line even if no quid pro quo is expressed.
And what happens after the initial outrage at these public figures? Perhaps the condemnation is not as absolute as we would want. Steve Easterbrook, the former chief executive officer of McDonald’s, was fired earlier this month for having a relationship with an employee. It appears that the corporation did the right thing by terminating their association with this man who violated company policy on personal conduct. However Oxford University’s Centre for Corporate Reputation has said that Easterbrook can continue in his position as a lecturer. Perhaps Oxford’s business school feels that the tainted Easterbrook is able to bring a different perspective to his lectures on Reputation…but what message does this lack of condemnation send to the future business leaders Oxford is cultivating?
And in a more flagrant flouting of the #MeToo phenomenon, comedian Louis CK, disgraced after admitting to multiple acts of sexual misconduct in 2017, has announced plans to tour again. Granted, what people are willing to call humorous is incredibly subjective. That there are people willing to listen to and laugh at the work of this man, whose bits often focus on sexual transgressions, shows us that our culture has a long way to go in the hard slog toward gender equality.
Reaching out to Sexual Harassment Attorneys here in the Bay Area
Here at the California Civil Rights Law Group, we are willing to make that hard slog with our clients. We will go the distance to fight against sexual harassment in the workplace. We have experience in successfully representing sexual harassment victims against employers large and small in jury trials and arbitrations. If you have questions about sexual harassment, contact our sexual harassment attorneys at the California Civil Rights Law Group at 415-453-4740.