While the #MeToo movement has highlighted the damage done by sexual harassment on the job, workers in Texas and around the country continue to face mistreatment and unwanted sexual advances on a regular basis. The exposure of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein for alleged sexual assault and harassment sparked widespread disclosures about similar issues throughout industries like entertainment, politics and technology. In Weinstein’s case, the response to the allegations went beyond a lawsuit or a corporate shakeup; he was found guilty in a criminal court of rape and a criminal sexual act.
Advocates against sexual harassment are hailing the verdict as a landmark achievement, especially because little forensic evidence was presented at the trial. Most of the prosecution’s case relied on victim and witness testimony. While Weinstein’s case was higher-profile than most, it involved many of the same factors experienced by workers in a variety of professions. Workers may face unwelcome sexual comments, advances or even sexual assault. Weinstein’s attorneys argued that the sexual contact was consensual. However, in many cases involving a power disparity, subordinate workers may feel compelled to maintain a friendly or positive relationship. They may fear retaliation for reporting the harassment.
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EEOC statistics indicate that more than 40% of women have experienced some type of sexual harassment on the job. In many cases, the victims are younger women trying to establish their careers, as in the Weinstein case. The conviction in the case indicates that attitudes are changing in how people respond to victims of sexual crimes and harassment.
While few perpetrators may be as famed as Weinstein, women continue to face workplace harassment on a regular basis. An employment law attorney may advise victims about their situation and help them to pursue justice.