Sexual harassment in the workplace: What is it, how to report it and more you should know

Published: Friday, October 13, 2017 @ 3:56 PM



Westend61/Getty Images/Westend61
(Westend61/Getty Images/Westend61)

A New York Times investigation last week revealed decades of sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

» RELATED: Timeline of Weinstein allegations dating back decade

Since the report, more than 20 more women, including actresses Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, have been vocal about Weinstein’s inappropriate advances.

>> Read more trending news 

In a tweet directed at Amazon exec Jeff Bezos Thursday, McGowan wrote she repeatedly told his head of studios not to work with Weinstein. “HW raped me,” she wrote.

» RELATED: Many #WomenBoycottTwitter to support Rose McGowan, others criticize campaign for ‘silencing’ women

Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Company on Sunday.

Sexual harassment is not uncommon in the workplace. In a 2015 survey of 2,235 full-time and part-time female employees, Cosmopolitan found 1 in 3 women experienced sexual harassment at work at some point in their lives.

Here’s what you should know about sexual harassment in the workplace, according to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Department of Labor:

What is sexual harassment?

Generally, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.

Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

» RELATED: Harvey Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman leaving him amid sexual harassment allegations

According to the Department of Labor, there are two forms of sexual harassment:

  • Quid pro quo: Involves an employment decision based on submission to the sexual harassment, such as promotion, assignment or keeping your job
  • Hostile work environment: Sexual harassment makes workplace hostile, intimidating, abusive or offensive

Are there state laws with more protections against sexual harassment in addition to Title VII?

Some states have adopted stronger protections. Georgia is not one of them. 

Harassment can include, but is not limited to:

  • unwelcome sexual advances
  • requests for sexual favors
  • other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature
  • non-sexual but offensive remarks about a person’s sex

Harassment is illegal when:

  • conduct is unwelcome
  • conduct is “based on the victim’s protected status”
  • subjectively abusive to person affected
  • “severe and pervasive” enough to create a work environment that a “reasonable person” would find hostile
(PeopleImages/Getty Images)

What factors are used to determine of harassment is “severe and pervasive” enough?

  • frequency of unwelcome conduct
  • severity of conduct
  • whether conduct was physically threatening/humiliating or “mere offensive utterance”
  • where conduct “unreasonably” interfered with work performance
  • effect on employee’s psychological well-being
  • whether harasser was a superior at the organization

From the Department of Labor:

Each factor is considered, but none are required or dispositive. Hostile work environment cases are often difficult to recognize, because the particular facts of each situation determine whether offensive conduct has crossed the line from “ordinary tribulations of the workplace, such as the sporadic use of abusive language . . . and occasional teasing,” to unlawful harassment.

However, the intent of the Department of Labor's Harassing Conduct Policy is to provide a process for addressing incidents of unwelcome conduct long before they become severe and pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment under the law.

Does the gender of the victim or harasser matter?

No. Both the victim and harasser can be either a woman or a man — or both can be the same sex.

» RELATED: Student says Georgia university did little to stop sexual harassment

Does the title of the harasser matter?

No. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another department, a coworker, an employee of a separate employer, a client or a customer.

What about teasing?

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments or isolated incidents that are “not very serious.”

However, teasing becomes illegal when:

  • the behavior becomes frequent or severe
  • the behavior creates a hostile or offensive work environment
  • the behavior results in an adverse employment decision (victim is fired or demoted)

What if you weren’t directly harassed but you feel affected?

You do not have to be the victim of direct harassment to be affected by the offensive conduct. It is still considered sexual harassment, according to the EEOC.

What should you do if you experience sexual harassment?

Inform the harasser at once that the behavior is unwelcome, then directly use “any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.” 

This may include reaching out to your direct manager or employer or talking to your company’s human resources department. Check your employee handbook for more information.

If you really can’t find someone you trust, labor and law employment attorney Nannina Angioni suggests you contact the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Experts also recommend filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Find directions on the EEOC’s website.

You may also want to continue keeping a record of the discriminatory activity and seek support from friends and family.

(BURGER/Getty Images/Canopy)

What if speaking out is too difficult?

“Some victims will never report abuse, and they have that right,” psychologist Nekeshia Hammond told NBC News. “It’s a case by case thing, and sometimes there’s a reason for staying silent — if you feel your safety is threatened, or if you’re literally on the verge of having an emotional breakdown and will be unable to function. But you need to reach out to someone.”

Hammond recommends calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), which includes free services and confidential support.

Can staying silent work against me, legally?

According to the Department of Labor, “the department cannot correct harassing conduct if a supervisor, manager or other Department official does not become aware of it.”

In fact, when an employee “unreasonably fails to report harassing conduct,” the department can use this as a defense against a suit for harassment.

Additionally, if you file a complaint with the EEOC, it’s recommended you do so within 180 days of the discriminatory activity.

» RELATED: Woman says she lost work hours after reporting sexual harassment

How does the EEOC investigate allegations of sexual harassment?

The department looks at the circumstances of the misconduct, the nature of the sexual advances and the context in which the incidents allegedly occurred.

“A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis,” the EEOC website states.

How can companies stop sexual harassment from occurring?

According to the EEOC, prevention is the best tool. Employers should be vocal about the intolerance of sexual harassment and establish a complaint and grievance system.

Learn more about workplace sexual harassment at dol.gov and eeoc.gov.

3 elephants forced onto Georgia interstate during tractor-trailer fire

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 5:02 PM



Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
(Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Three African elephants were forced onto the interstate near the Georgia-Tennessee border Monday morning after a tractor-trailer carrying the animals caught fire, the Chattanooga Fire Department said in a Facebook post.

>> Read more trending news

Firefighters responded to the fire on Interstate 24 East about 2 a.m., officials said.

“The owners got the elephants safely out of the trailer and gave them some hay to munch on while firefighters put the fire out,” the post read.

Elephants on I-24...Another Day in the Office So what is that peeking its large head over a guardrail on the interstate...

Posted by Chattanooga Fire Department on Monday, November 20, 2017

Officials have not said who owned the animals, which were headed to Sarasota, Florida.

The elephants are just the latest animals to find their way onto Georgia highways in the past few months.

Suzy, a 6-year-old Bengal tiger, was shot and killed after roaming a Henry County neighborhood and attacking a dog, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. The tiger, who was owned by a former Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus presenter, escaped from a transport truck carrying 14 other big cats from Florida to Tennessee.

Federal authorities will investigate whether charges should be filed against circus parent company Feld Entertainment and its owner.

New York Times suspends reporter Glenn Thrush amid sexual misconduct claims

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 1:56 PM

Glenn Thrush, New York Times Reporter, Suspended Amid Sexual Misconduct Claims

The New York Times officials announced Monday that they were suspending reporter Glenn Thrush in the wake of allegations that the White House reporter made unwanted sexual advances toward multiple women.

>> Read more trending news

Thrush was accused of inappropriate behavior in a story published Monday by Vox. Thrush’s former colleague, Laura McGann, said he kissed her and put his hand on her thigh while they were at a bar one night after he told the third person in their group to leave them.

The incident allegedly took place five years ago, while Thrush was a reporter for Politico. He joined the New York Times in January to cover the Trump administration, according to the newspaper.

McGann, who was an editor at Politico when the alleged incident took place, said Thrush later told colleagues that their encounter went the other way and that he rejected advances from her. He reiterated his recollection to Vox, saying in a statement that “the encounter described was consensual, brief, and ended by me.”

Three other women recounted similar tales to Vox involving Thrush. They declined to be identified.

“I apologize to any woman who felt uncomfortable in my presence, and for any situation where I behaved inappropriately,” Thrush told Vox Sunday in an emailed statement. “Any behavior that makes a woman feel disrespected or uncomfortable is unacceptable.”

Officials with the Times said Monday that they were opening an investigation into the alleged incidents, one of which reportedly took place in June, after Thrush joined the newspaper.

“The behavior attributed to Glenn in this Vox story is very concerning and not in keeping with the standards and values of The New York Times,” the Times officials said in a statement. “We intend to fully investigate and while we do, Glenn will be suspended.”

Thrush said he was “deeply sorry” for an encounter that happened in June, in which a woman said Thrush began kissing her on the street after they had been in a bar. Thrush said he hasn’t had alcohol since the event, which he called “life changing.”

Another woman in the story talks about a consensual drunken encounter with Thrush five years ago that left her rattled, and a fourth woman who was surprised by an unexpected kiss.

Thrush worked as the chief political correspondent at Politico and as a senior staff writer for Politico Magazine before joining the Times staff. He previously worked at Newsday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Keeping the kids happy in the car on long road trip

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 4:31 PM

Thanksgiving - By the Numbers

With the holidays fast approaching, ‘tis the season to think about the upcoming family festivities -- and how you’re going to get there. AAA estimates that even more families will be piling in their cars and hitting the road this Thanksgiving. As families start to map out their holiday travel plans, whether traveling to Grandma’s house or a favorite vacation spot, FamilyFun magazine and AAA conducted a travel survey of 400 parents and kids with some surprising and humorous findings:

 Keeping kids entertained is as important as filling up the tank

· What do parents say they always do before heading out on a road trip? Naturally, filling up the car with gas tops the list (90 percent) but so does packing snacks for their kids (90 percent) and packing electronics to keep kids busy (76 percent). Clearly, keeping those back seat travelers happy is a priority for moms and dads — ranking higher than such options as cleaning the windshield, checking the tires and even getting a hotel reservation. 

>> Read more trending news

Kids envision the car of the future to include an Xbox, mini-fridges and trampolines

· Almost half (44 percent) of kids surveyed said sitting still in a car for long trips is the worst part of the trip. In order to liven up the back seat, kids were asked what they would include in the “car of the future,” and their responses pointed to entertainment and space needs. Kids would include flat-screen TVs, Xboxes, PS4s and mini-fridges filled with snacks in their self-designed car. “It would have a spot for a trampoline so I wouldn’t have to sit forever,” wrote one child. “A dance floor with microphone,” said another, as well as “lots of room, so my younger brother couldn’t reach me.”

Technology rules in the back seat, but it’s not what kids like best about road trips

· Over half (63 percent) of kids surveyed said they’d bring an e-device, such as a tablet, laptop or smartphone, to make sure a road trip is fun. But while tech may be a top boredom-buster, it’s ultimately not what makes a trip fun. Kids said the best part of a road trip is actually “spending time with their family” and “getting to see new places.”

Boys choose music while girls choose creativity

· Keeping kids entertained is a top concern for parents, but it’s important to know your audience and what will fend off the back seat blues. The survey revealed that boys are more likely to want to bring their iPod or music player on a road trip, while girls are more likely to want to bring a stuffed animal, a book and drawing or craft supplies. 

Here are some tips for spending lots of time in the car:

 Backseat Fun & Games:

· License Plate Lingo – See who can be the first player to make a sentence out of the letters on a license plate ahead of you. For example, if the plate is LH5-2VF, you might shout, “Let’s have vacation fun!” The weirder the sentence, the better.

· Geography Go-Round – Start with any place in the world -- Kansas, for example. The next person has to think of a place that begins with the last letter of “Kansas,” such as “South Africa.” Whoever goes next needs a place that starts with an “A”. You can use a place only once per game, and it has to be a real place.

(Getty file photo)(Tatyana Tomsickova Photography/Getty Images)

Kids Fun Travel Kit:

Easy Games – Bring along a three-ring binder filled with clear plastic sleeves containing blank sheets of paper and simple games such as hangman and tic-tac-toe. Use dry-erase markers; kids can doodle and play, then wipe the sleeves clean and play again.
Goody Bags – For longer drives, consider bringing surprise goody bags to hand out at noteworthy intervals like passing a state border. Label each bag with the name of the milestone and inside have a snack, coloring page or even a special privilege coupon (e.g. you can pick the music we listen to for the next 15 minutes).
For more tips and information:

FamilyFun and AAA have also developed a Holiday Road Trips booklet of 20 handy ideas, including everything from driving safety and pack-along essentials to games that will keep your crew entertained. To download the full FamilyFun & AAA Holiday Road Trips booklet, visit http://bit.ly/1ubBHKJ.

Russian mega-yacht owned by Putin friend docks in Port of Palm Beach

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 5:01 PM

The Eclipse, a 533-foot private yacht owned by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, is pictured here at the Port of Palm Beach. 
Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post
The Eclipse, a 533-foot private yacht owned by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, is pictured here at the Port of Palm Beach. (Andres Leiva / The Palm Beach Post)

Days before President Donald Trump flies into town for Thanksgiving, one of the world’s most expensive yachts, owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, sailed into the Port of Palm Beach Friday afternoon.

>> Read more trending news

But Abramovich’s spokesman said the billionaire isn’t aboard — the ship’s just in town for scheduled maintenance.

The 533-foot Eclipse, valued at $400 million to $500 million, comes equipped with a pool, helipad, submarine and room for a crew of 92, according to marine websites. It made its way past the Bahamas and docked at 1:15 p.m, taking the slip normally reserved for the Grand Celebration, a cruise ship on hurricane-relief duty in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Originally booked to stay through Dec. 5, the Eclipse might have to leave Dec. 1, as it is being followed by the 644-foot World, billed as “the largest private residential ship on the planet,” which is scheduled to arrive that day.

>> Related: Port of Palm Beach helps fill demand of mega yachts

Where will the Eclipse go?

The MarineTraffic app had it headed south on the Intracoastal Waterway, toward downtown West Palm Beach. Or at least it did — that flight plan vanished from the app on Saturday. Maybe they found out, as we were told, a ship that big would run aground in the Waterway.

Note to Transportation Security Administration: In any event, that route would have put a Russian submarine within a mile or so of the winter White House.

Forbes lists Abramovich’s net worth at $9.5 billion, the world’s 139th-richest person, with major holdings in steel, nickel and oil companies, as well as Britain’s Chelsea soccer team.

>> Related: President Trump expected to spend Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago

Bloomberg Politics has reported that presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner has met Abramovich one-on-one and with their wives on a number of occasions.We’re told they haven’t been in touch since a charity dinner in 2014, though.