Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sexual harassment settlement reasonable?

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According to NZ Herald, an Australian employee has been awarded $850,000 after settling a sexual harassment law suit against David Jones. Notwithstanding the merits of her case, it is hard to believe that the woman earned the $500,000 she will take home from the case. So what is years of sexual harassment worth? Well, she was not the only woman, so I guess this must have been one 'well-organised' CEO. But seriously, if we reflect on her context, she will face:
1. The negative stigma of having sued a CEO, a tease, a brainless blonde
2. The negative stereotype of having advanced because she was provocatively dressed
3. The negative stigma associated with the fact that she seemed to wait so long before she took action

Without knowing what she did, or without knowing how future employers or customers might respond to her, it is hard to know what impact these events will have on her life. I do however recognise that such events in the early stages of one's life can be 'life changing'. They can change your attitude to people....or define your relationship to people. These are life changing events. Of course the counterparty does not realise. We have a great many CEOs who really harbour enormous insecurities; who feel they are entitled to any woman, whether because some women are ingratiated, or because they simply need intimacy.

On balance, it is probably a reasonable settlement. Its a pity however the judge or jury did not award anything for sexual harassment campaigns. It would have been nice to see the company required to provide $250,000 towards a national sexual harassment advertisement campaign. Maybe they will do that anyway given the negative publicity they have attracted in this case.
There are a number of sexual predators in Australian business. I am reminded of a 'dick' I had the displeasure of knowing, who ended up harassing his secretary at Commonwealth Bank. It makes you question the standards of these companies. Clearly there is a lack of accountability, and a lot of bravado....which clearly impresses some people. 'Fake it until you make it'....followed by a graceless fall.
Andrew Sheldon

ConvinceMe.Net - Anyone up for a debate?