Sexual harassment allegations are often stranger than fiction

Posted in Sexual Harassment on December 3, 2014

Lawsuits alleging workplace sexual harassment often make the news for a number of reasons, including the fact that the details sometimes seem too outrageous to be true. Unfortunately, truth can be stranger than fiction.

Individuals who commit sexual harassment tend to show a blatant disregard for the rights of others and the very dignity of their victims. This is, in part, why stories of their alleged behavior can be difficult to believe. It goes against the basic principles of fairness and respect that most of us hold.

A lawsuit filed late last month in Southern California is a good example. According to news reports, a 27-year-old woman recently filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former boss at a company that sells office supplies. The woman claims she endured nearly constant sexual harassment from her boss and was subjected to other degrading comments and behaviors as well.

In her complaint, she says that she was hired as a salesperson, but that “throughout her employment, she was told that keeping her job ‘depended on’ her also acting as a personal assistant to” her boss. Duties allegedly included driving him to and from work as well as to and from bars because he had lost his license due to a DUI.

The older man also allegedly withheld commission money from her sales in order to establish a “breast implant fund” for her. He even allegedly solicited donations from others.

Finally, the harassment complaint also includes allegations of unwanted and unwelcome touching and degrading pet names including “Sparky” and “[my] little Mexican.” She was eventually fired, she says, after refusing to lie to the police for her boss when he had an altercation with a customer.

Allegations like this seem outlandish, and for most of us, such behavior would be unthinkable. But it is important to remember that sexual harassment is not primarily about lust – it is about exerting power over someone else. Sadly, when that is the motivation for a person’s behavior, the ways in which they achieve those ends are almost certain to be despicable.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Woman Says Boss Went Over the Line,” Rebekah Kearn, Dec. 3, 2014