Sexual Harassment

By: Rachel DePompa
By: Rachel DePompa

In the last 10 years the number of sexual harassment complaints filed with the equal employment opportunity office, also known as the EEOC, has gone up 12 percent.

The scandal may be happening in Richmond, but it still hits close to home.
Valley courthouses see dozens of sexual harassment cases each year.

Cathleen Welsh has been an attorney in Harrisonburg for 10 years.

“Nationally the number of charges filed are increasing and the valley is no different from the national trends. It's because, I believe that there is an increasing awareness over what is appropriate conduct in the work place and what is not.”

More and more companies Valley are creating zero tolerance policies like the COORS brewing company in Rockingham County.

“We really don't experience very many problems it's quite rare here it does occur but it's quite rare,” says Coors Human Resources Director Doug Weed.

Coors officials say awareness is the key. They train all employees yearly, tell them what to do and where to go if they are harassed and show them videos.

“It really brought a lot of focus to some things you say, third party harassment and some harassment people didn't think was harassment. It brought a lot of light to everybody here,” says Coors employee Abby Griffin.

“If I tell you that you look very nice today. That’s not sexual harassment in a vacuum. it has to be a lot more than that,” says Welsh.

For many companies a person in power using that position to sexually harass another person is the most serious.

“That would be dealt with very severely and would result in immediate termination,” says Weed.

Unwelcome physical contact is another serious offensive.

That would also be dealt with very seriously and could include termination,” says Weed.

The most difficult component to sexual harassment is how subjective it is. What is welcome to one person may not be welcome to another. Last year men filed 14-percent of the sexual harassment charges with the EEOC.


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