With each week, more and more women and men who have experienced sexual harassment or assault have bravely come forward to share their stories. The extreme prevalence of these sort of encounters reveals a problematic issue within our workforce (and beyond). If it was in doubt before, there is not one now: Sexual harassment happens far too often in almost every workplace in this country.
Unfortunately, the state Capitol of California is markedly included. In the past month, dozens of individuals from the legislature have come forward with their stories. In a recent development, all sexual harassment investigations in the state Senate will now be sent to attorneys outside the government in an effort to provide swift justice and accountability.
The legislature has a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment of any kind, but speaking up can be dangerous. An individual who shares her or his story is vulnerable, what with the public and media scrutinizing every word. What's more, these accusations are often leveled against men in positions of power. Too often, they are bosses who hold your job, paycheck and workplace reputation in their hand.
As a result, peers of the alleged harasser -- who hold just as much power as the harasser does -- deciding the validity and resulting consequences for these actions has been suspect. Even with this new development, this question extends further: Should lawmakers be the ones deciding which firms and attorneys will investigate the claims leveled at their peers?
No employee, regardless of his or her workplace, should not have to face sexual harassment or harassment of any kind. If you have experienced something of this nature, it is important to consult an attorney right away. He or she can help you understand what your options are.