Mad Men Redux

By: Amy Epstein Gluck

In so many ways, it feels like we’re back in the 60’s and the Mad Men era where male executives were chasing their secretaries around their desks.

Sexual harassment at work

Except, not.

With all of the publicity surrounding the Gretchen Carlson/Roger Ailes lawsuit, which I blogged about here, WaPo media columnist Margaret Sullivan referenced a study done by Cosmopolitan magazine last year, which found that 1 in 3 American women said they had been sexually harassed at work, many by male managers. The vast majority said they never reported it.

Business Man

One in three. Wow.

Just wow.

Ms. Sullivan writes here about a new TV series debuting this fall called “Good Girls Revolt.” She describes the show as “a little ‘Mad Men’ and a little ‘The Newsroom’” where women do research and their male colleagues get the bylines—all of this when “sexual harassment” was not a de rigueur term.

It had no name. It was just how things were.

Retro girl with open palm copy space for product

But the 60’s are over right? This behavior should not occur anymore because it’s illegal.

Why wouldn’t today’s women report sexual harassment?  It’s against the law and costs companies thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees and (sometimes) punitive damages. Because, all of you Ailes defenders who think Carlson’s claim is bogus, women may worry, and rightly so, that their careers may suffer as a result of reporting sexual harassment.   Being viewed as a “complainer” is a strong deterrent.

Sexual harrassment in the workplace

Complaining to management about unlawful workplace discrimination—sexual harassment or otherwise—is “protected activity” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”).  Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision prohibits supervisors and employers for employer from subjecting an employee to any adverse action when that employee has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by Title VII. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considers “opposition” to be complaining to anyone about alleged discrimination to oneself OR others.

As Rich reported here, retaliation remains a significant problem, which the EEOC is targeting and attempting to redress.

Takeaway: Have a complaint reporting procedure so that your employees may come forward without fear of retaliation.

By: Amy Epstein Gluck

Sister and Brother RetroIs this Amy back then?

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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]