were groped and subjected to other lewd male
behavior, such as stripteases and breast-shaped
birthday cakes, reports The New York Times.
2 Merrill Lynch paid more than $100 million to
more than 900 women who sued the company
for sexual discrimination and harassment in the
late 1990s, and has since doled out a few million to
individual female brokers in more recent lawsuits. One
Merrill Lynch broker said she opened a gift box that
was left on her desk to find “a dildo, some hand lotion,
and a sheet of perverse poetry,” reports the Times.
New York Smith Barney office sued the firm because
their male coworkers set up a basement party room
with a toilet seat hanging from the ceiling and a
garbage bin they used to mix drinks.
Despite a series of high-profile sexual-harassment
lawsuits facing the investment-banking and other
industries in the mid-1990s, the sexual harassment
hasn’t let up. Each year, 11 percent of white women
and 14 percent of women of color report sexual
harassment in the form of teasing, jokes, remarks
or questions, according to the Level Playing Field
Institute. In many industries, there remains a “frat-
“EACH YEAR, 11 PERCENT OF WHITE WOMEN AND 14 PERCENT
OF WOMEN OF COLOR report sexual harassment IN THE
FORM OF teasing, jokes, remarks OR QUESTIONS.”
3In 1998, Mitsubishi paid $34 million to up to
400 current and former employees working at a
Mitsubishi manufacturing plant in Illinois, according
to Online NewsHour. Women working on the plant’s
production lines said men put “good-sized wrenches”
between their legs and pretended they were “
extensions of themselves,” or slapped women on their
behinds and put bananas in their mouths in front of a
group as if it were a joke.
4This year, data-storage giant EMC faces allegations of holding sales meetings at strip clubs;
supervisors licking whipped cream off the breasts of
strippers at office functions; and demeaning and vulgar language used against female employees.
THE PERVASIVE, SEXIST CORPORATE CULTURE
The reality of sexual harassment in the workplace
continues to make headlines in the aftermath of Isiah
Thomas being found guilty on eight of nine charges of
sexual harassment. MSG vows to appeal, and Thomas
maintains his innocence despite the guilty verdict,
reports MSNBC, saying the jury didn’t get all the facts.
But what were the facts? Double standards, unwanted
advances, cursing at Browne Sanders and calling her
“bitch,” and later putting his arm around her at a
basketball game and telling her how great she looked.
If this is considered acceptable behavior, it appears
not much has changed since the “boom-boom room”
case more than a decade ago, when three women in a
house mentality” that creates a “social acceptance” of
sexual harassment and a “blame-the-victim” mindset.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina writes
about attending her first management meeting at a
strip club in her memoir Tough Choices. She had to walk
across a platform of half-clothed dancers to get to the
table where her colleague sat with a client.
Excluding women from committee positions,
putting your arm around them as Thomas did to
Browne Sanders, or intentionally holding
meetings in places where women may be
uncomfortable are some examples of how sexual
harassment creates a hostile work environment. In
industries where women are underrepresented, such as
investment banking and automotive, these incidences
tend to be more prevalent.
Sex-discrimination charges, which may include
sexual harassment, accounted for 30. 7 percent of
all those filed with the EEOC in 2006—the exact
same percentage as in 1997,
and second only to race-discrimination charges.
The EEOC received
12,025 sexual-harassment charges
in 2006, down from
15,889 in 1997,
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