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Sexual harassment can pollute an entire workplace

By now, people in Minnesota may have heard that Roger Ailes, a former Fox News chairman, is being investigated due to allegations of sexual harassment. Also being investigated is whether or not other executives were aware of the reported harassment. However, what they should keep in mind is that sexual harassment doesn't just affect the perpetrator and the victim, it can pollute an entire workplace.

What sexual harassment can create is a culture of fear, especially if the perpetrator of the harassment had a bad temper, made unreasonable demands or was abusive. In some workplaces, sexual harassment is often viewed as an act of fellowship. Victims of sexual harassment in such situations may feel they have no recourse for the harassment. In addition, victims of harassment may be afraid that if they report the harassment, they will be retaliated against or even fired.

Moreover, even if the victim's allegations are true, there may not be much of an effect on the perpetrator of the abuse. Even if the perpetrator is let go, they may get a favorable severance package on their way out. In some companies, there is little accountability for sexual harassment, and thus it can go on for many years.

In the end, it is important for victims of sexual harassment to speak up, and it is important that there are consequences for those who commit the harassment. Sexual harassment should never be a part of a company's culture. Individuals who believe they have been sexually harassed should not only report the behavior, but they may also want to investigate whether they can take legal action.

Source: Fortune, "How Sexual Harassment In the C-Suite Poisons Company Culture," Valentina Zarya, Aug. 5, 2016

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