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Friday, April 28, 2017

Fox Proves It: Sexual Harassment Is Contagious

I've always said that sexual harassment is not about sex: it's about power. In that way it's just another form of bullying. And if you remember your playground bullies, if they got away with it once, they accelerated their behavior. Sexual harassers, like bullies, engage in more and more extreme behavior until someone stops them.

The other thing about playground bullies is that their behavior is contagious. Some weaker personality chimes in to get approval from the alpha bully. Then others join in the bullying. Well, it happens with sexual harassment too, and Fox just proved it.

We have all seen the headlines. First it was Roger Ailes, the alpha harasser, who got away with sexual harassment for years before he was ousted. His behavior set the tone for the entire corporation.

From there, the women at Fox were emboldened, and they spoke up against Bill O'Reilly. After millions in payouts, the network finally got rid of him too. But it took a long, long time, didn't it?

And now there's a new allegation, this time about Sean Hannity. I'm not surprised if it's true, because sexual harassment is truly contagious. If one gets away with it, then it spreads. If this really happened, then I bet others will come forward.

This is yet another reason for employers to take sexual harassment complaints seriously. If the victim is ignored or fired, if the harasser is allowed to continue, then pretty soon you have a full-blown Animal House at work. And does any shareholder really want that going on? Does that in any way help the work get done? No, of course not. It's a distraction. It destroys morale. And as the Fox multi-million payouts demonstrate, it ultimately destroys the bottom line.

Women were afraid to report the harassment at Fox, until the first woman finally stood up, and then others came forward. That's just what happens with those playground bullies: when the first kid stands up to them then others get the nerve to stand up too. Which means that reporting sexual harassment is also contagious.

When the company takes the sexual harassment complaint seriously and makes sure the harasser is stopped, then other victims won't be afraid to come forward.

So, HR folks, take those sexual harassment complaints seriously and stop those harassers the first time they harass. Or ultimately they'll grab you in the p***y and you shouldn't be surprised.

And victims of sexual harassment, try to come forward. You have to report it to HR and give them a chance to fix it according to the Supreme Court, and that's very, very hard. But if you don't report it, then the harasser will do it to other women, and the harassment will get worse. It may even spread. If you stand up to the harasser, then other women will be empowered to stand up for themselves.

Monday, April 24, 2017

States With Pro-Employee Laws: No Asking About Applicant Salary History

In a movement that started in Massachusetts, states and cities are starting to ban employers from asking applicants about their salary history. The reason behind the legislation is that basing pay on prior salary can lock in pay discrimination. The sponsor of the Philadelphia ordinance explained: “Simply put, when a woman is paid less at the beginning of her career she will continue to earn less throughout her career. By eliminating the question of salary history we will be one step closer to decreasing the wage gap.”

The Massachusetts law makes it illegal to:
[S]eek the salary history of any prospective employee from any current or former employer; provided, however, that a prospective employee may provide written authorization to a prospective employer to confirm prior wages, including benefits or other compensation or salary history only after any offer of employment with compensation has been made to the prospective employee.
New York is the most recent city to ban salary history inquiries. Puerto Rico also has a salary history ban. Similar proposed laws are pending in D.C., California, New Jersey, New York State and in Congress (that one won't pass, but it's a nice try).

This is a good move to try to end the pay gap that still exists between men and women. It could well help stop the cycle of pay disparity for women and minorities.

And really, what business is it of anybody what you make now? Employers should know what they plan to pay for a job and actually pay it. While nothing stops you from saying no to such inquiries now, unless you're a highly sought after recruit saying no may end the interview.

For multistate employers, this may have an impact on the way they conduct interviews and prepare applications now. For others, now is the time to start rethinking this outdated and unduly nosy practice.