sexual harassment in the workplace

GOP war on women: Cyberstalker Cody Henson gets 3rd continuance

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The Republican leadership's lust for power has no shame:

Henson had a first court appearance on the Class 2 misdemeanor charge on March 28, when his hearing was set for May 2. On May 2, Henson received his first continuance to June 26. On June 26, the case was continued a second time to Tuesday, when it was continued a third time to July 23.

Interviewed outside the Transylvania County courthouse Tuesday by Carolina Public Press, the lawmaker’s attorney, J. Michael Edney, attributed the delay to legislative necessity. “They needed him in Raleigh,” said Edney, who is also a county commissioner in Henderson County.

Compare and contrast: One lawmaker who is suffering from cancer sets aside her pain and weakness to do her duty, while another uses duty as an excuse to postpone punishment over his abusive treatment of his former spouse. That's a stark enough comparison on its own, but consider this: The GOP leadership should have already forced Henson's resignation, but instead, they are reinforcing his bad behavior by "needing him" to not only show up, but to do so on days when his victim was counting on justice to give her some peace of mind. Peace of mind that may not be forthcoming:

NC needs laws to better address sexual harassment in the workplace

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Because the lack of concern speaks volumes:

"If you have the terrible misfortune to be sexually harassed in North Carolina at an employer that has less than 15 employees, you literally have no claim in North Carolina," Noble said. "You don't have a federal claim, and you don't have a state law claim. And that's wrong."

If a victim works at a larger employer, they can file a claim under federal statute, Noble said. But that's more difficult, more complicated and more expensive. As a result, many people don't follow through. In the meantime, Noble said calls to her office about sexual harassment have increased 500 percent since coverage of the stories began appearing in the news media last fall.

Even that increase in wanting to "take action" represents just a tip of the iceberg. And when it comes to behavior such as this, men are more than happy to emulate other men who appear to be getting away with it. No doubt Republicans would say it should be left up to the civil courts to handle it and not an "authoritarian government." But in their next breath they will whine about too many lawsuits and the need for "tort reform." Don't look for any relief coming from that direction, because most of these folks live in a 1950's bubble. Which may explain why half of working women have been harassed in the workplace:

NC Legislature's new sexual harassment training falls short

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Required for staffers, but voluntary for powerful lawmakers:

When the N.C. General Assembly’s top staffer announced plans last week to roll out sexual harassment training for state lawmakers and legislative employees, some state lawmakers hailed the move as a good first step.

But women’s rights advocates and experts in workplace sexual harassment tell Policy Watch that the training, which is voluntary for lawmakers, might not go far enough. “This strikes me as not a real effort to effect meaningful change,” said Laura Noble, a North Carolina attorney who specializes in workplace litigation and sexual harassment.

At least one of the drawbacks for keeping this "voluntary" for lawmakers has to do with perception. While those who are prone to unethical behavior usually don't realize it, and would likely skip the training, those who aren't prone to that consider themselves enlightened enough to not need it. But a big part of this training is designed to teach that second (and hopefully much larger) group how to spot red flags, and take steps to intervene when necessary. And it's almost always necessary, if you really want to stop the behavior. Which brings up a third group of people, who are not abusers but also want to maintain plausible deniability that anything wrong is happening right in front of their noses. In many ways, that last group is worse than the first. Here's more:

WUNC uncovers disgusting behavior by lawmakers in NC Legislature

And what can only be described as a blatant cover-up of said behavior:

The first incident happened ten years ago when Representative David Almond (R-Stanly) allegedly exposed himself to his legislative assistant – and then masturbated on an office chair. The legislative assistant reportedly filed a complaint, and legislators dealt with the situation swiftly.

"The chair we put away. There was semen on the chair. We went to the individual and dealt with the situation," said House Representative Julia Howard (R-Forsyth), who was on the Legislative Ethics Committee at that time. "We put a fine line in the sand and addressed it. That’s the end of your story."

Uh, no. The lack of exposure this incident received because you and others decided that "story" should not be told at the time is a story in itself. And it's a good bet at least part of that story is the desire not to impugn a Republican when they were counting on capitalizing on the imprisonment of Democrat Jim Black:

Journalist who broke the "Marines United" nude photo story receives threats

Because cowardice and misogyny go hand-in-hand:

The Facebook page was first exposed by The Center for Investigative Journalism and North Carolina resident and retired Marine Thomas Brennan, working with The War Horse, a nonprofit military and veterans journalism organization.

While top military officials investigate at Camp Lejeune, local law enforcement officers in Onslow County are tracking down at least one person who has made threats against Brennan. Richlands, N.C., Police Chief Ron Lindig told McClatchy Tuesday Brennan and his wife were targeted online by a person apparently angry about his investigative work.

I'm sure he'll get more threats before this thing is over, because a whole bunch of these idiots didn't try to conceal their identity. They may have to make a new category for Bad Conduct Discharges that includes the word "Facebook" in there somewhere. But the sooner these jackasses are out of uniform the better. Here are a few excerpts from the report itself via the War Horse:

The ABC's of Kenny West's sexual harassment

Registering a 9.5 on the Creep Scale:

By the time B started working in Meadows' office in early 2014, West already had a reputation for inappropriate behavior toward women, she said. "I was told, 'Hey, by the way, you probably don't want to wear your hair in a ponytail when Kenny's in town, because he really likes to play with girls' hair when it's in a ponytail for some reason, and he seems to touch girls' hair a lot,' " she said.

West "would make comments and remarks that made me feel uncomfortable and also (was) very touchy," Witness C said. "He would place his hand on my shoulder and on my back." She said comments were "nothing explicit or anything blatant, just things that didn't feel appropriate."

As disgusting as it is to contemplate, physical contact of this sort is a form of "grooming." Predators often do this to gauge the reaction of the individual, to determine if that person is submissive enough to escalate. And this (admittedly hearsay) account is suggestive that such escalation did occur on at least one occasion:

Meadows in hot water with Congressional Ethics panel

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The hush-money payoff that wouldn't go away:

A congressional ethics panel said there is “substantial reason to believe” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), broke House rules by paying his departed chief of staff a three-month severance package in 2015. Meadows has denied any wrongdoing, arguing through a lawyer that he acted in good faith, even if it turns out he broke the rules.

The OCE pointed out in its report that Meadows had not cooperated with their investigation. In May 2016 letter to House Ethics Committee leaders, Meadows’s attorney said he had opted not to engage in the “duplicative, costly and burdensome process” of the OCE review since the Ethics Committee “is the ultimate arbiter of compliance with House Rules and Standards of Conduct.”

Methinks Tea Party Mark doesn't understand the meaning of "good faith." It doesn't just mean you thought you were doing right, it also means you are willing to cooperate with investigators and disclose to them anything that might be relevant. The next logical step for the House Ethics Committee is to subpoena (if they have that authority) Kenny West, to find out a) what work he actually accomplished during that extended period, and b) what juicy information he was holding over Meadows' head (blackmail) that would force the Congressman to break rules over:

Mark Meadows and the sexually-harassing skeleton in his closet

A tawdry tale of blackmail and misogyny:

The House Ethics Committee says it's giving itself until mid-August to make a decision on whether Meadows improperly paid his departed chief-of-staff after he left his job. The committee can punish House members who violate ethics rules.

The committee has considered the Meadows matter since March. A Meadows spokesman did not respond Wednesday to messages seeking comment.

He was too busy crossing his fingers and hoping this would just go away. And considering Republicans are in charge of the House and its Ethics Committee, it very well might go away. But the voters in Meadows' District, especially the female voters, should be demanding some answers about this stinking mess:

"Progressive" orgs and sexual harassment

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Not as mutually exclusive as we'd like to believe:

The problem is much bigger than FitzGibbon, progressives told Vox. "Trevor certainly isn't the only one in the progressive space who has done this to me or women I've known, and he won't be the last," Mary said.

"In more than a decade in the movement, I've never worked at a progressive organization or campaign where sexual harassment wasn't an issue of some kind," said one female progressive strategist who asked not to be named. "I think it's a lot harder for progressive organizations to create a space that's free from that than people think it is."

As both a male and a Progressive, I found myself questioning the conclusions reached in this article. Maybe it just "seems" like a bigger problem than it is, you know? But it could be that very thinking that encourages this kind of behavior. When you create an environment where "doing good" is the base assumption, you're also creating an extra layer of "cover" for a sexual predator/harasser. And when well-meaning outsiders pour money into that operation, they are unknowingly providing support for such disgusting behavior:

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