Sexual harassment was once a way of life, especially for women in the workplace. Anyone who wanted to protect a career or an ability to put food on the family table had to grin and bear it, even over years of mistreatment. Now, unwanted touching and speaking in the workplace has the ability to speak out.
This goes all the way to the enforcers of the law, as a recent shakeup in a Tennessee police department shows. Three senior police officers have resigned, and three others were disciplined after an investigation into systemic underplaying of sexual harassment in their offices.
Evidence that is part of an internal police investigation showed that lewd behavior among some officers made many colleagues uncomfortable, and supervisors swept many of the complaints under the rug. Violations were as public as offensive illustrations on office whiteboards and vulgar comments in team meetings.
“I don’t believe that there’s any idea that this is OK,” said the chief of police. “I think people make mistakes. Our mistakes are very public, where in other professions they are not public.”
Many people liable for sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace are counting on victims to remain silent and take their behavior for granted. But this is not necessary, and it is not recommended, as victims do not have to keep old traditions going at their own expense.
An attorney can work out the best way to approach a case of sexual harassment at work. Legal representation can help people realize their options and execute a plan with the right help.