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#MeTooBatonRouge

#MeTooBatonRouge

Another high profiled man has been accused of sexual harassment in the workforce.

CBS corporation’s chairman and C.E.O. Leslie Moonves has stepped down from his position after the New Yorker released an article about the allegations of sexual misconduct that was filed against him by as many as six women. The article states that these women have come forward declaring that “between the nineteen-eighties and the late aughts, Moonves sexually harassed them. Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine. Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers. All said that he became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.”

The cynical part about this is that Moonves has been an advocate in the #MeToo Movement. Last year, CBS chairman helped found the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. He has said since the allegations have come forth, “Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected—and abided by the principle—that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution.”

Louisiana is no different in having a person in high authority abusing their power and influence.

The state of Louisiana has faced a lot of heat with sexual harassment claims in the workplace. According to a survey that was conducted by LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab, 70% of women feel that they face a lot of discrimination in workplace. 88% of African American women feel that they face more obstacles and discrimination in the workforce. The survey continued in stating that two-thirds of state residents say allegations of sexual harassment in entertainment, politics and media reflect widespread problems in society rather than isolated incidents of individual misconduct.

The latest discovery in the survey might be because of Louisiana’s former Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s sexual harassment claim earlier this year with an employee filing a lawsuit against him for harassment that allegedly lasted for several years. In recent news, it has been questioned if the new Secretary of State, Kyle Ardoin, knew about the sexual harassment, with emails being uncovered between him and the woman who has accused Schedler. It is quoted from the woman that “said she initially worked for Schedler directly, but was then transferred to Ardoin’s supervision once she and the secretary of state started having difficulties because Schedler was making sexual advances toward her.”, as told by The Advertiser.

The woman continued in saying that, “I think a lot of people were aware that Tom had a thing for me at work. But I don’t know — I never talked about it,” she said. “I tried to just ignore it because it was uncomfortable and it was kind of insulting and embarrassing because to me — I went to work to work and do a good job. I like to be proud of my work.”

After the initial harassment against the statewide elected official, the The Louisiana Legislature  passed a bill in the 2018 session that implements a stronger sexual misconduct policy in state government. House Bill 524, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Carpenter, D-Baton Rouge, requires each state agency to adopt a policy regarding sexual harassment. This bill will have Agency Head and Local Government to develop and institute policies and guidelines that will prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. It will be done by offering a minimum 1-hour training that will be reported annually.

Louisiana State Representative Barbara Carpenter said, “Baton Rouge like many cities its size is literally “coming of age” where more and more incidents of abuse are beginning to happen and women feel the need to come forward.  At one time, many of these sexual abuse acts were not reported for various reasons. However, now more women feel that they can be helped and the perpetrator will dealt with expeditiously.”

The policy must make it clear that unwelcome sexual advances, sexual favors and other behavior that creates a hostile work environment is not allowed. There must also be an established grievance process for complaining about sexual harassment and a clear prohibition on retaliating against people who complain about sexual harassment. Rep. Carpenter said that she felt that there is a need for this policy to take action and that there needed to be “movement was growing nation-wide and Louisiana needed to address the problem in the proper manner.” She continued in saying that Baton Rouge needs to change how women are treated in the workplace, “Our citizens must first learn and recognize the signs of sexual harassment. Additionally, our citizens must understand that sexual harassment is not an acceptable behavior.  Simple awareness is essential toward sexual awareness prevention. Employers must understand and realize that Sexual Harassment will not be tolerated and that there are serious consequences of such.”

Now, women are feeling bolder and more comfortable in sticking up for themselves but are hoping that their workforce will feel the same comfort in sticking up for them.

This is only the beginning for the safety, protection, and care for women in the state of Louisiana, and in the United States in the workforce.

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