Selected Responses to
  "Is Your Daughter
   Safe at Work?"  


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Reprints

San Francisco Chronicle, "Is Your Daughter Safe at Work?" July 16, 2009

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Good Housekeeping: Is your daughter safe at work?" May 29, 2009

Commentary & blog mentions

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Reader responses

NOTE: Excerpts link to the full text below.

"... I thought that this type of case involving sexual harassment towards teenage women was rare. I now know better..."
— Victor M. Serby, Esq., Woodmere, NY More>

"This report really is disappointing. As an attorney who owns businesses, I can tell you that the perpetrators of the harassment in these cases are generally never gone after... The offender loses not one dime, except for his job..."
—Name withheld More>

Letters with full text:

February 22, 2009

I am an attorney in New York, and while flipping through the channels last Friday evening, I saw you featured on PBS's NOW concerning sexual harassment of teenage women in the workplace.

I recently filed a case with the EEOC in New York, and until I saw the PBS program, I thought that this type of case involving sexual harassment towards teenage women was rare. I now know better.

This should not be the way that young women are first introduced to the workforce. Congress needs to amend Title VII for stricter penalties for provable harassment against teenage women, including penalties against the individual harassers and not just against the employer.

— Victor M. Serby, Esq., Woodmere, NY


February 25, 2009

This report really is disappointing. As an attorney who owns businesses, I can tell you that the perpetrators of the harassment in these cases are generally never gone after, except as they may be a witness. He is named in the suit, but that is all. The EEOC never goes after the individual perpetrator financially either because there is nothing they can do to the individual or because they choose not to. So they go after the company. The company cannot sue the perpetrator because you cannot sue your own employee and even if you could, the costs of suing would generally exceed the assets of the employee. Plaintiffs and the EEOC go for the deep pockets and no one ever pursues the offender. The offender loses not one dime, except for his job, and that meant nothing until just recently. The offender has no incentive to stop offending. He moves on to offend again. In the end, the system is about money, not behavior. If it were, your report would state what happened to change the behavior of the offender.

Furthermore, even if the company is at fault, it still has to defend itself. It has an obligation to limit money damages. The system makes it difficult to fire the employee (whose testimony is generally a denial of the acts complained of) if the company needs the employee to defend itself. So the employee is generally retained until after the suit is resolved. The suit actually has a tendency to prolong his employment!

Lastly, companies are afraid to give out information about former employees because they fear being sued by that employee over a negative reference. So the behavior continues with a new employer. Some large companies have a 900 number that you call which gives only dates of employment and job title. They choose to make remaining silent a profit center. While you may say that the management or company owner is insensitive, the genesis of the problem is the offending staff member who is free to move on, without any penalty, and continue his perverse activity. The avenues to find out about offending employees are limited or non-existent.

There is no incentive for attorneys to cure this behavior as this is their business. Offenders that offend again are good for business and many attorneys only do this type of work. Why would they want to fix it?  Frankly speaking, attorneys don’t like suing employees. No money in it for them. They don’t sue for the experience.

Your story misses the mark in many ways. If you really wanted to stop this activity, you would write a story that would change the system, starting with the offender. It's as if there is a rape in some local park and you spend your time trying to make the park safer and ignore the rapist. It is disappointing your view was so narrow.

—Name withheld

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Last page update: January 25, 2010

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