New Hampshire Needs to Strengthen Workplace Sexual Harassment Laws

“In a state where the head of the Republican Party of the state’s largest city, a woman, defends her predecessor as City GOP Chair for his remarks widely interpreted as quote unquote Women are Lazy in a political battle over gender pay equity….”

Vintage post card depicting New Hampshire State House

Imagine you’re a woman working for a major financial services company. It is not so long after the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, when liberals and feminists who had skewered Republican Senator Bob Packwood earlier in the decade turned a blind eye to the pervasive atmosphere of sexual harassment engendered in the White House by a man whose wife didn’t stay home and bake cookies. Echoes of this sell-out still reverberate throughout society, including the business culture, as a certain Sex Harasser-in-Chief has left office with higher approval ratings than Eisenhower, who was not only an uber-popular Prez but a war hero, the 5-star hero of WWII.

You’re working for a failed politician, a man who, unlike Bill Clinton, few admire, most abhor. What he has in common with the 42nd president is a penchant for sexual harassment. Your boss was a bag man, a fixer and hatchet man for another popular politician, albeit of a much lower order than the Presidency, a well-liked man who remained well-liked as he had had your boss as a buffer. He won one election, before losing a bid for higher office in which the other candidate chewed him up like a dog eats a rawhide bone, with the same results in the end: Leaving a stinky mess.

This hustler has moved into thumping the tub for questionable “financial planning” products for a company that uses a marketing paradigm based on using social networks and personal contacts to make sales, frequently under the guise of helping people start a business. Like Amway or other legitimate, semi-pyramid schemes, it is necessary for the business to keep recruiting employees, as one needs the employees’ contacts to market the products to THEIR friends and contacts. And then RECRUIT their friends and family members to join in to keep business volume up, as commissions are so low. “Agents” are also charged debits against prior commissions when a client cancels a policy.

Your boss, who receives a cut of your income, is not a financial planner in the traditional sense, but the head of the local chapter of a nationwide Ponzi scheme that demands a constant influx of new customers, and new marketers, to keep ahead of the game. Yet another form of bag man.

Finally, you’ve had enough with the sexual harassment. You blow the whistle. And the major financial services company, which has a rather poor reputation among more ethical firms, is nonplussed — not in the sense of being perplexed, as is formal English, but as in the colloquial, North American sense of being “undisturbed”.

This is a firm with a 50% turnover rate. Employees are disposable. They have lawyers. They have commercial general liability insurance policy, and directors and officers coverage. (Amd the insurers, in the chance there is a payout, have already laid off their risk with reinsurance companies.) The powers that be who have chartered your boss and given him fancy title amble on stonewalling you.

If your boss were a yellow-eyed dog, he would be spayed and tied with a chain outside, so he wouldn’t bother the neighbor bitches when they are in heat, and dry hump visitors to the house. He escapes ultimate sanctions, i.e., he is not terminated as your complaint is not taken seriously. Frustrated, you leave the firm.

And the harasser goes on harassing; the predator seeks other prey.

There is a need in this country for education not only on one’s civil rights, but on ways to seek redress in the courts. Just as whistleblower attorneys finally ensured that the rights of whistleblowers were posted in nuclear power plants (were the need for feedback on bad practices was a necessity in the wake of Three Mile Island), legislators need to make it mandatory that posters explaining the crime of sexual harassment and the process for seeking redress be posted in the workplace. Sex harassers, and the corporations that shield them out of financial self-interest, exist because of fear: This fear needs to be removed from the workplace.

Women who are harassed, who blow the whistle on the harasser, and who are rebuffed by the corporate higher-ups owe it to themselves, to other women, and to society at large to sue both the harasser and the company that has allowed the environment of harassment to continue. And it is up to legislators to ensure that they have the guidance they need to do so. There already exist the laws, but guidance will take away the fear.

This article originally was published in 2014 by Associated Content

I am a writer who lives in New Hampshire

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Jon Hopwood

Jon Hopwood

I am a writer who lives in New Hampshire

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