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PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:52 am 
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New details rekindle HP-Hurd flap
By Jim Finkle and Edwin Chan
30 December 2011

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Mark Hurd, chairman, CEO and president of HP speaks at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Pasadena, California July 24, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

(Reuters) - Former Hewlett Packard CEO Mark Hurd made increasingly aggressive romantic advances over several years toward an independent contractor who later accused him of sexual harassment, according to claims in a letter from her lawyer obtained by Reuters.

The letter, ordered unsealed and allowed to be made public for the first time since the scandal emerged last year, outlined in intricate detail accusations by TV starlet and HP contractor Jodie Fisher that Hurd had wined and dined her, then allegedly sought sexual favors in return for employment.

Fisher retained celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who sent the letter in June 2010 accusing Hurd of hiring her with amorous designs. He tried repeatedly to "engage" her by asking Fisher to his hotel room and kissing her on the lips, according to a copy of the letter provided by a source close to the situation.

The letter is at the heart of a scandal that transfixed Silicon Valley in 2010 and culminated in the resignation of Hurd, who was popular with investors on Wall Street and is now a president at HP rival Oracle Corp. Hurd, Oracle and even Fisher herself have said Allred's letter contained unspecified inaccuracies. Still, its release threatens to revive the scandal as Hurd looks to put the dispute behind him and focus on his new job at Oracle, where one of his key responsibilities is selling high-end computer systems that compete with products from HP.

Hurd was ousted from HP on August 6 after Fisher - who was hired as a hostess for corporate events - accused him of sexual harassment, a claim an internal probe later dismissed. "It is appalling that you would use HP revenues for the purpose of procuring female companionship and romance under the guise of HP business," Allred's letter read. "She continually had to put you off, make excuses, scurry away or simply leave."

The letter is available at r.reuters.com/fav75s

UPHEAVAL

Hurd's legal team had fought to keep the letter under seal, but a Delaware appeals court ruled this week it should be made public, though some portions would be redacted. Sources had leaked details of the June letter to Reuters and other media in 2010. These included a claim that Hurd revealed details about HP's impending acquisition of Electronic Data Systems Corp before the deal was announced in 2008. Hurd has also denied that allegation.

Allred declined comment, as did a spokeswoman for HP.

The fresh revelations have re-focused the spotlight on Hurd's controversial firing, which preceded a period of instability at HP. Outspoken Oracle CEO Larry Ellison blasted HP's board for being "cowardly" and promptly hired Hurd, who is married with children. Former SAP CEO Leo Apotheker replaced Hurd at the helm of the world's top computer maker, but lasted barely a year before Meg Whitman took up the baton.

The computer services giant missed Wall Street targets for several quarters, killed its much-touted TouchPad tablet, and first considered then backtracked on a plan to hive off its personal computer division, the world's largest.

ALLRED'S CLAIMS

The eight-page missive penned by Allred, well-known for representing women accusing celebrities such as Tiger Woods and politicians of sexual misconduct, blasts Hurd for reducing Fisher to a "nervous wreck" as he continually sought sex with the former actress during meetings from Madrid to Los Angeles. It detailed claims that the advances began after Hurd was "taken with" Fisher after spotting her on the short-lived TV series, Age of Love. At their first two meetings at hotels after Fisher was contracted, Hurd shared personal details about his life and sought the same from her.

According to the letter, matters escalated when Hurd invited Fisher up to his hotel room at the Atlanta Ritz and asked her to stay the night, kindling a one-sided pursuit that would last till 2009 and span cities around the world. "This was the beginning of an uncomfortable dance that went on for almost two years," Allred wrote. "You would relentlessly attempt to cajole her into having sex with you."

Over the next year or so, Allred's letter described in detail various instances when Fisher allegedly fended off his advances, though she claimed she had dinner with Hurd several times out of fear for her job. At one point, the HP CEO stopped at an ATM during a walk and showed Fisher that his checking account balance was over $1 million, which Allred claimed was an attempt to impress her.

Fisher stopped getting contracts for corporate event appearances shortly after a final meeting with Hurd in Idaho, during which Allred said the then-CEO had grabbed and kissed her, but was again spurned. "She knew that if she did not have sex with you soon, her job was over, which is exactly what occurred," the letter said.

Bloomberg first reported details of the June 24, 2010, letter.

(Editing by Gary Hill)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:17 pm 
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Panic buttons to be given to NYC hotel maids
9 February 2012

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Hotels in New York City have agreed to approve a hotel union request to give housekeepers personal panic buttons. By News Wires (text)

REUTERS - Hotels in New York City have agreed to give housekeepers personal panic buttons in the wake of a hotel maid’s charge she was sexually assaulted by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The panic buttons were among several items included in a contract proposal presented on Tuesday to the city’s hotel union that was expected to win approval early next week.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested in May for allegedly sexually assaulting a hotel maid cleaning his suite at the luxury Sofitel. Strauss-Kahn resigned as director of the International Monetary Fund and authorities eventually dropped the charges against him, citing doubts about his accuser’s credibility.

After Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, the Sofitel and the Pierre, another high-end hotel in midtown Manhattan, both decided to give panic buttons, which can be used to summon help when they feel endangered, to maids. Now housekeepers at all of the biggest hotels in the city will be equipped with the devices.

“It’s unfortunate but there are instances when guests behave inappropriately,” said John Turchiano, spokesman for the New York Hotel Trades Council, the union representing more than 30,000 hotel workers in the area. “This would be a really good way to cut down on that and give our members strong protections.”

Employers would be required to give panic buttons to any hotel worker entering an occupied guest room, according to the contract proposal. The Hotel Association of New York approved the devices last week. “They can quickly and easily activate these devices to effectively summon prompt assistance to their locations,” said association spokeswoman Lisa Linden.

State Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who introduced a bill in the state legislature last year calling for panic buttons, applauded their inclusion in the proposed contract. “It’s an important but simple step to protect housekeepers from assault,” Lancman said.

Source: France24.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:32 pm 
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Woman wins workplace bullying case
13 February 2012

In a landmark court decision, Hildegard Superina from Rijeka (Primorje-Gorski Kotar county) has been awarded 4,000 Euros in what is believed to be one of the first workplace harassment cases to be brought before the courts in Croatia.

Superina, who was employed as the Head of Planning and Analysis at the Rijeka office of the Croatian Power Board (HEP) was according to court papers, subjected to abuse about her sex and ethnicity by Director Damir Lucic, which forced her to eventually resign from her job, reports daily newspaper Novi list.

"For the last 12 years I went to work with cramps in my stomach," said Superina. The court was told how Lucic had used derogatory terms about Superina such as "Italian whore and Italian little tart" over a period of time and at times in front of witnesses. Lucic no longer works at HEP.

Superina says that she is happy with the judgment, especially because this is a precedent in the Croatian judiciary system. "I am satisfied because I am strongly opposed to violence and I say no to harassment. It is shameful and unacceptable that in HEP, a state owned enterprise, nationalism flourishes, verbal harassment goes on and is tolerated," added Superina.

Source: Croatian Times.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:04 am 
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'Office cougar' jailed for preying on married men
14 June 2012

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Jeevani Wickramaratna Photo: Facebook

A Cambridge graduate who described herself as the “office cougar” has been jailed for falsely claiming she was having affairs with her married male colleagues.

Software engineer Jeevani Wickramaratna, 44, spun a web of deceit, bombarding the men with sexually explicit messages, emailing their wives and even falsely claiming one man had HIV. She was found guilty of sexual harassment and jailed for 26 weeks by District Judge David Parsons, who blasted her "complete fantasy world". He said: "They trusted you and you abused that trust and during the trial you repeated the wicked allegations you made against each one of them and it is eminently clear that you are completely incapable of telling the truth."

Wickramaratna called herself a cougar, a term used to describe an older woman who pursues younger men. She became infatuated with co-worker Paul Stokes after he emailed her offering her some of his birthday cake, and went on to besiege him with emails and Facebook messages, South Somerset Magistrates Court in Yeovil heard.

Christine Hart, prosecuting, said: "She claimed that Mr Stokes was having an affair with the office 'cougar', and many of the messages were sexually explicit and caused great distress to both him and his family. Wickramaratna then began sending him a series of messages saying she was setting him free and said she had told his family about their affair and that he loved her."

Further abusive Facebook messages were sent, including a false allegation that Mr Stokes had been diagnosed with HIV, all of which caused great humiliation. The court heard that Mr Stokes insisted he had never had an affair with the defendant and when he reported the matter to the police in July 2010 an investigation began. Miss Hart said: "The police contacted Wickramaratna telling her not to contact Mr Stokes, but she wrote back revealing explicit details of their affair that she believed had taken place and referred to herself as the cougar."

The defendant left the company, Portsmouth electronics firm Raymarine, and began working for communications firm Wimax, in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, owned by Kazeem Benzair and wife Joanne. A few weeks later a colleague, Pir Khan, had a guest visiting who needed accommodation so Wickramaratna offered him her spare room and they exchanged telephone numbers. But before the guest's arrival she was told that bed and breakfast accommodation had been found and her assistance was no longer required.

Miss Hart said: "Soon after Mr Khan received a message from the defendant asking if he would stop making uncomfortable gestures towards her and he replied saying he did not understand what comments she was referring to. A number of abusive messages were then sent but the defendant claimed they had been sent by her boyfriend Jeremy - a man whom the police were not able to ascertain even existed. She then reported Mr Khan to Mr Benzair for harassment and both parties were put on gardening leave from the firm."

When police went to Wickramaratna's home address to arrest her, she claimed she and Paul Stokes had a relationship - during which she created the persona of the "cougar". She claimed she had been the one who was sexually harassed while working at Wimax and denied persistently contacting the Benzairs. But during the subsequent investigation she sent 107 abusive emails to Mr Benzair and did not stop despite pleas by Mrs Benzair, who was suffering from a serious illness.

In a statement to the court Paul Stokes said Wickramaratna had put him and his wife "through hell" and her persistent communications had caused them considerable stress. He said: "The hurtful stories that she concocted from her deranged imagination became more and more aggressive and led me to fear for the safety of my wife and children." He said the threat of harassment continued and he still had to check his house at night and still found himself looking over his shoulder.

The victim also would not allow himself to be in a situation where he was unaccompanied with a female colleague and no longer used social networking sites. Mr Benzair said he paid a solicitor £9,000 to deal with matters on his behalf at a loss to his business and said the stress had made his wife's serious medical condition worse. He said: "We were bombarded with calls at work and home and had to change our telephone number and I was unable to sleep properly for many weeks."

Wickramaratna, of Buckingham, Bucks., pleaded not guilty to three allegations of harassment against Paul Stokes, the Benzairs and Mr Khan between June 1 2010 and October 17 2010, but was convicted of all counts after a trial. The district judge said: "With regard to Paul Stokes you seriously risked damaging a happy and stable marriage and you caused him and his wife complete humiliation publishing degrading material on the internet causing them acute embarrassment. You accused him of having an affair and of having HIV and caused complete disruption in his place of work leaving a web of chaos. Then within days Pir Khan was subjected to your wicked lies which were so deplorable that he was suspended and had written warnings at work for something he had not done. Kazeem Benzair was damaged commercially and all this happened while his wife was seriously and possibly terminally ill. You persisted on sending people emails even after being warned by the police and have shown no remorse, empathy or regret. You live in a complete fantasy world."

Source: Telegraph UK.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:22 pm 
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Canada policewomen file sex harassment class action
2 August 2012

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AFP - More than 200 policewomen and former cops have alleged sexual harassment on the job in a class action lawsuit against Canada's federal police force.

Hearings opened in British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver Thursday to certify a law suit filed in March by Janet Merlo, a 19-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as a class action, after more women came forward, said lawyer David Klein. The women say they suffered abuse and harassment on the job.

The suit alleges "that there are problems with the system," Klein said, pointing to "problems the RCMP has been aware of for many years, problems they should have fixed many years ago, problems my clients now want them to repair."

The case could take years to settle. Multiple statements from alleged victims have appeared in the Canadian media. The women cite examples of superiors asking for sexual favors and fellow officers making crude jokes.

Former Mountie Valerie MacLean told CBC that her supervisor would tell her that "if I was friendly, if we had a relationship, it would be good for my career because he was doing my assessment." MacLean told the public broadcaster she complained on numerous occasions, but "nothing happened. It wasn't stopped."

Last year, the new commissioner of the RCMP, Bob Paulson, pledged to crack down on sexual harassment within the ranks of the police force.

Source: France24.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 4:48 pm 
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Janet Napolitano Accused of Sexual Harassment
By Andrew Lu
Sunday August 12, 2012

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Janet Napolitano

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has been accused of sexual harassment and discrimination against male employees.

In the complaint, Napolitano is accused of turning her female-run department into a "frat house" where male staffers were routinely humiliated, reports Forbes.

Along with the culture against men, Napolitano is also accused of providing unequal opportunities for men and women, promoting women to the highest positions while equally qualified men were bypassed. The lawsuit against Janet Napolitano serves as a stark reminder for employers that discrimination goes both ways, and that you have to be on the lookout for much more than men harassing women.

The complaint against Napolitano is instructive to employers as it not only involves a role reversal of men suing women, but also includes both complaints of verbal sexual harassment and discriminatory treatment.

Verbal sexual harassment is the much more recognizable violation. An employer can usually spot verbal harassment as as soon as they hear it. In Napolitano's case, a female manager in the Department allegedly screamed at male employees and used sexually humiliating language against them; including, telling one male worker that she wanted his "c-k in the back of [her] throat," reports Forbes. If true, it's pretty clear such language could constitute illegal harassment.

On the other hand, discriminatory treatment can be much harder to recognize. For example, the lawsuit alleges that male staffers were frequently bypassed for top positions. To prove discrimination, a judge would have to look at the intent of the employer -- if in fact the employer actually considered sex, and decided to promote based on this characteristic. This is usually much more difficult to prove than simply reviewing foul language.

For her part, Janet Napolitano has denied the harassment complaint. In the meantime, employers should take this case as a reminder to be sensitive to discrimination and harassment by men against women, and women against men.

Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 5:10 pm 
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911 caller allegedly wanted woman for sex
August 25, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. (UPI) -- A Florida man has been charged with abusing the 911 system by making repeated calls requesting a female deputy to come to his home for sex.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said Joshua Basso, 32, made at least seven calls between Wednesday and Friday. Basso was arrested at his home in Dover, Fla., on Friday morning.

"The suspect misused the 911 system to request female deputies to respond to his residence for sexual gratification," the sheriff's office said in a news release.

Source: UPI.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:49 am 
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Indonesia to Launch First Full Women-Only Trains in October
September 29, 2012

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A women-only carriage is seen on a train as it makes a stop at Jatinegara Station in East Jakarta on July 5. State-run KAI Commuter Jabodetabek (KCJ) says it will launch women-only trains on Oct. 1. (Antara Photo)

Train company KAI Commuter Jabodetabek (KCJ) is set to launch Indonesia’s first women-only trains on Monday, following the “success” of women-only carriages that commenced operations in 2010.

KCJ spokeswoman Eva Chairunisa said in a press statement on Saturday that eight commuter-line journeys serving Jakarta and its satellite city of Bogor would exclusively serve women from Monday to Saturday, increasing the number of daily trips that KCJ operated to 539.

KCJ is a subsidiary of state-owned train firm Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI). It currently operates 531 train journeys daily connecting Jakarta with its satellite cities of Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi. “PT KAI Commuter Jabodetabek will launch the women-only commuter line trains on October 1, 2012,” Eva said. “These additional women-only train journeys won’t be available on Sunday and holidays”.

The new move was part of KJC’s efforts to continually improve its services, following the successful launch of women-only carriages on Aug. 19, 2010 that prompted female passengers to request for more, according to Eva.

The carriages can be found at the front and back of commuter trains, and are intended to protect female passengers from sexual harassment, which happens quite frequently in especially overcrowded carriages during rush hours.

Itineraries of the eight women-only commuter train journeys will be as follow.

Departure Time From To
6:30 a.m. Bogor Jakarta Kota
8:07 a.m. Jakarta Kota Bogor
10:05 a.m. Bogor Jakarta Kota
11:38 a.m. Jakarta Kota Bogor
13:14 p.m. Bogor Jakarta Kota
14:47 p.m. Jakarta Kota Bogor
16:38 p.m. Bogor Jatinegara
18:36 p.m. Jatinegara Bogor

Source: Jakarta Globe.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:55 am 
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Caught on film: the predatory men stalking Moscow
by Shaun Walker
Tuesday 2 October 2012

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The TV presenter Yulia Kolyadina started the campaign after becoming fed up with harassment

The city's women have had enough of daily harassment – and a new secret weapon is turning the tables

Propositioned in parks, perved on when riding the metro and harassed by unwanted suitors while simply walking down the street.

Such is life for young Russian women, according to a pressure group that wants to introduce fines for displays of aggressive sexual attention from male Muscovites.

The activists of RosNakhal, a newly formed movement, say that it is difficult for women to escape the attention of predatory men in the Russian capital, and want the Russian parliament to act. The campaign was started by Yulia Kolyadina, a presenter on a fashion-based television channel, who says she was so irritated by being harassed by men as she went about her daily business in Moscow that she decided to make a film to highlight the problem. A friend followed her around the city with a hidden camera for two days and filmed various exchanges.

"I want to show everyone, and especially men, how your attempts to chat up women can turn into the worst kind of rudeness," Ms Kolyadina says at the start of the video, which has received over a million views since it was posted a fortnight ago on YouTube.

What follows are a number of clips of men sidling up to her at cafés, bus stops, or simply on the street and making clumsy chat-up attempts. When she says she does not want to talk to them, some of them attempt to touch her, while others suggest going back to their place to "get to know each other". One man does not even say hello, but has as his opening gambit: "Ooh, what a nice juicy arse you have!"

"It's a real problem and we want men to realise that women should not be treated like objects, but with respect," says Olga Boltneva, a 20-year-old journalism student who is one of the campaign's organisers. "I often go to the park to read and men appear and just won't leave you alone. When I heard about Yulia's idea I knew straight away that I wanted to help out."

After the video went viral, consultations have already begun in the Russian parliament over whether or not some kind of penalty could be introduced and many MPs are supportive.

"However strong Russian women are, it's very unpleasant for them when their personal space is breached," Maria Maksakova, an MP from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, told Izvestia newspaper. "We are going to look into all the aspects of this problem and develop a solution." The main issue is how any kind of law against sexual harassment could be enforced, but Ms Boltneva points to Brussels, where a €250 (£200) fine for "sexual intimidation" has recently been introduced after a similar amateur video of everyday harassment was put online by a 25-year-old film student earlier this summer.

But many Russians have a different attitude towards the issue. In 2008, a woman attempting to bring charges against a lecherous boss had her case thrown out after the judge ruled that predatory sexual behaviour was a normal part of life. "If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children," the judge ruled. Not all Russian parliamentarians agree with the idea, either. Sergei Kalashnikov, an MP from the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party, said that he hoped the situation in Russia would not become similar to sexual harassment laws in the West. "Once I was having my picture taken with the US Secretary of Health and I joked that I could possibly be accused of harassment because we were standing next to each other," he said. "She jumped away from me and a scandal nearly erupted from it."

Even the campaign itself is being run along very Russian lines, and there is certainly no mention of the F-word, still a taboo in Russia, when it comes to the activists. "No! We are definitely not feminists!" Ms Boltneva says. "We love and respect men, we don't hate them. But there are exceptions."

She says that there is nothing wrong with men chatting up women or flirting with them, but that men should realise that no means no. "We like it when people help us with our coats or hold the door open for us, but it has to be the woman's choice whether she takes things further or not."

Source: The Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:40 pm 
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US Air Force conducts inspections for images of scantily clad women
By Becky Iannotta
Wednesday December 5, 2012

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Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh

Commanders and supervisors in all corners of the Air Force will conduct a widespread sweep of all work spaces and public areas starting today, looking for pictures, calendars and other materials that objectify women.

The order covers all active, reserve and Air National Guard units and must be completed by Dec. 17. Pictures of scantily clad women in calendars, posters or in briefing slides have no place in a professional workplace, said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, who ordered the service-wide health and welfare inspection.

Welsh has emphasized the need to stop sexual assaults and harassment in the workplace since coming to office in August, and he told Air Force Times he had received multiple complaints about images, jokes and comments that made women and some men uncomfortable. The complaints indicated that many women felt they had to “go along to get along” with offensive images and comments if they wanted to steer clear of trouble.

“In my view, all this stuff is connected. If we’re going to get serious about things like sexual assault, we have to get serious about an environment that could lead to sexual harassment. In some ways this stuff can all be linked,” Welsh said Dec. 4. “I’m not saying every case is linked, but it could be linked, and why would we want to tolerate there even being a chance of that?”

Welsh said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley issued the inspection order at his request. “After talking to a number of our female officers and NCOs, I believe that there is a potential that this is a problem in more than those isolated areas,” Welsh said. “Quite frankly, if we have 20 percent of our people who don’t feel that they are fully respected and valued for all the incredible talents and the dedication they bring to the job, then that’s just not the Air Force we want to be.”

On Nov. 15, Welsh, Donley and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy acknowledged in a letter to airmen that the service expects more than 700 reports of sexual assault this year — 100 more than in 2011. Also this year: a sexual assault scandal at basic training involving close to two dozen military training instructors, 11 of whom have been charged so far.

Health and welfare inspections are often used by unit commanders, command chiefs and first sergeants as a tool to identify a localized problem, such as drug use among unit members.

“Quite honestly, I’m not sure what we’ll find,” Welsh said. “There might not be that many places where it’s a problem; there might be a number of places where it’s a problem. I don’t know. That’s part of my concern. That’s why we’re not going to waste time trying to figure it out one place at a time.”

Welsh directed commanders to conduct the inspections Nov. 28 on a Wing Commanders Call. Commanders must report on their findings by Dec. 17, Welsh said. The sweep is for things that Welsh said would be reminiscent of an all-male military that Air Force leaders might have believed were eliminated 20 or 30 years ago. “You know, briefing slides that show a half-dressed woman for some reason. Inappropriate calendars on a wall, jokes being told at the beginning of a squadron meeting that are just off-color, and nobody appreciates them,” Welsh said. “It’s the environmental stuff that has somebody going, ‘Well I really didn’t need to listen to that today. I don’t need to walk into the door to see that on the side of the guy’s cubicle.’”

Commanders and supervisors will not inspect personal computers, personal email accounts or other personal property. “Nobody’s going to be going through somebody’s pockets in their coat in a locker or through their personal drawers,” Welsh said. “The intent here is not to do a witch hunt.” However, anything found that could be construed as a violation of law or regulation will be dealt with, Welsh said. “If the commanders during this inspection find things that cross the line between stupid and criminal, I expect them to do their job within all the appropriate guidelines and authorities that they have to do that,” he said.

Source: Air Force Times.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:19 pm 
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Office relations guide: how to avoid being a sex pest in the workplace
by Ellen E Jones
Friday, 1 March 2013

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It seems every workplace in the land is being rocked by a sexual harassment scandal.

And if even national leaders and heads of giant corporations are so flummoxed by the line between bad office etiquette, behaviour that requires disciplinary proceedings and criminal sexual harassment, what hope is there for the average office dinosaur? Here, by way of clarification, are 10 common scenarios and suggestions on how to navigate them with your dignity (almost) intact.

Scenario 1: “I am a single man and fancy one of my colleagues, who is younger than and junior to me. Is there an ‘appropriate’ way I can take our friendship to a sexual level?”

Not really, no. Sorry. Let’s imagine, for argument’s sake, that your wit always translates perfectly on the intra-office email and the harsh office lighting sets off your silver fox mane a treat; you are the George Clooneyest mofo ever to wield a Ryman’s stapler. Your younger, junior colleague definitely fancies you, but sadly that’s not really the issue here. As Sarah Culshaw, a partner in the employment team at Collyer Bristow Solicitors, can attest, it’s not how you get into it that matters, it’s how you get out. “I’ve had several cases where I’ve been acting for individuals where it’s gone wrong and the junior person is then complaining and there’s enough evidence that makes it look as though it was part of a harassment scenario.” In short: it’s not illegal. But it’s not a good idea, either.

Scenario 2: “I keep hearing general gossip that one of my employees likes to grope junior staff but no one has come forward with hard evidence. My instinct is to ask him quietly to leave. Is this wrong?”

Contrary to the apparent confusion over at Lib Dem HQ, there are clear guidelines to follow. First off, you can forget about having a quiet word. This would be grounds for an unfair dismissal claim. Steve Williams, head of equality at the government-funded Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), says a formal investigation followed by a proper disciplinary process is called for, even in the case of “gossip”. That might sound unduly heavy-handed, but it protects Gropey McGroperson too. “Even if these rumours are not true you need to find out why they are circulating and whether there is something about this person’s management style that is leading to them.” Got that, Mr Clegg?

Scenario 3: I run a small business and treat my employees like a family. I occasionally refer to the young ladies who work for me as “sweetheart” or “love”. A new employee recently asked if I would use her Christian name instead. Is she overreacting? Or am I out of date?

Look at it like this, treacle: you obviously aim to create a friendly working environment, which is nice, so your new employee has done you a favour by revealing that your nicknames may not always be as well received as they are intended. Perhaps your other female employees enjoy your avuncular manner – or perhaps they’d also prefer to communicate as one adult to another. Either way, you now have the perfect opportunity to raise the issue and find out for sure. As for the individual employee in question, Jeff Havens, author of The Super Awesome Book of Office Etiquette, has a suggestion: “Since I’m guessing that you wouldn’t be OK with her calling you ‘grandpa’ or ‘village elder’, you should respect the fact that she would prefer to be called by her name.”

Scenario 4: A junior colleague has put on weight and started wearing baggy clothing. I suspect she is trying to hide a pregnancy and would like to avoid major disruption by beginning preparations for her maternity leave as soon as possible. Is it OK to just ask?

This is one of those situations where a manager, powerful and beneficent as he no doubt is, must regrettably accept the limits of his purview. To wit: other people’s wombs. “Even if you suspect it, you shouldn’t say ‘Are you pregnant?’ or even ask other people if she is, because that might result in some sort of sex discrimination claim,” says Culshaw. In other words, you could ask her if she’s pregnant, but a simple enquiry after the pies, and who ate them all, would probably achieve the same effect and be less legally complicated.*

Remember also that the law incentivises women to give you fair notice, anyway. “Basically, if she’s going to get her benefits, she’s obliged to notify you 15 weeks before the due date.”

Scenario 5: A female colleague has always behaved towards me in a flirtatious manner. It never really bothered me, but following a recent promotion I’m now her line manager and I’m worried it’s become inappropriate. How can I cool things off?

Steve Williams of Acas confirms that your instincts are correct: “It would be unfair on your female colleague and other members of the team if they thought that she was somehow your favourite as a result of any flirtation.” But how to pull off this delicate transition without causing undue embarrassment? Don’t single her out for a tête-à-tête – that could easily be misinterpreted. Instead, call a meeting to remind all your new juniors that your promotion means the tone of your interactions with them will change. True, you’ll come off like an officious, stuck-in-the-mud, Billy no-mates – but that’s why they pay you the big bucks. Welcome to management!

Scenario 6: “I recently complimented a female colleague on a dress she was wearing. She looked offended and has avoided me since. Did I do something wrong?”

That all depends on the nature of the compliment, doesn’t it? In the interests of clarity, non-safe topics include hair, shoes and cleavages. Safe topics include, work and… that’s it. Delivery also matters, as Jeff Havens points out. “Were you speaking from a respectable distance, or did you surprise her by appearing suddenly over her shoulder and whispering into her ear?” The easiest solution is an apology, and if in future you decide to limit yourself to admiring the inventiveness of her Excel formulae, no one would blame you. She will probably be just as flattered and you’ll both be spared the lingering sense of unease.

Scenario 7: I had a bit too much to drink at the work party last night and made a sexual advance. Nothing came of it, but the atmosphere between us has been awkward. I have reason to believe she’s gossiped about it to other colleagues. How can I restore my reputation and clear the air?

Sorry to break this to you in the midst what is no doubt a truly evil hangover, but this is potentially a bit more serious than you might think. If this individual goes on to make a complaint about you, you may well face disciplinary proceedings. “I think in that situation, I would approach her informally and apologise, hope that the gossip would go away, but consider reporting it to the line manager or HR anyway,” advises Culshaw. If your suspicions of gossiping are correct, it’s unlikely you’ll be telling them anything they don’t already know, but this way you’ll have the opportunity to get your side across. “If the person he made an advance to is more junior, it’s more important to report it. If there’s an imbalance of any sort, it’s more likely to cause problems.”

Scenario 8: I have a colleague at work who is also a trusted friend. He has a habit of loudly discussing sexual matters and the physical attributes of various celebrities, and although I find it amusing, I’m worried he’s making our female colleagues uncomfortable. Should I ask him to stop?

Absolutely, and not just because he sounds like a real bore. “The test in such a case is subjectively whether the claimant finds it offensive,” warns Culshaw. “When it actually comes to it, will people actually go ahead with a claim? Probably not. But very often it’s part of another pattern of behaviour.” Sympathetic interpretation: your mate, a generally-all-round-decent-jolly-good bloke with a bawdy sense of humour, is leaving himself open to attack by any litigious employee with a grudge. Hostile interpretation: your friend’s behaviour is a symptom of a toxic workplace environment which you’d be wise to distance yourself from, and sharpish.

Scenario 9: I’m in a senior managerial position at a large company. At a recent awards dinner, large quantities of wine were drunk and a younger, junior colleague became very drunk (as did I) and very amorous. One thing led to another and we ended up in bed together. Does this make me a sex pest?

Not necessarily, but you are a silly, silly man. It’s not that the disparity in your age and status makes you a sex pest, it’s that by clouding the issue with a hundred different potential motivations, it will make it difficult for you to prove that you are not a sex pest, should it ever get out (and it probably will – see scenario 1). Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to take her aside for a Monday morning debrief. “If you go and say ‘Don’t say a word to anyone’ then that could look like you’re putting more pressure on,” says Culshaw.

Scenario 10: I’ve just seen a colleague who’s been away on maternity leave. I wanted to ask her “When are you planning to come back?” But I have a vague sense that, as I’m in a managerial position and she’s not, this might be considered inappropriate – so I didn’t. Now I feel that, by not asking such an obvious question, I’ve been unnecessarily unfriendly. Was I being unduly paranoid?

You were right to tread carefully, as the law does protect women on maternity leave from being pressured back into work. But you could have acquitted yourself with more finesse. Next time, a simple, “How’s the new baby?” should suffice as small talk. Or if you really want to know when she’s coming back and are feeling brave, you could venture something like: “The office has fallen apart without you, we’re looking forward to having you back…” followed by an awkward pause. She may or may not choose to fill this pause with details of her return date.

Source: The Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:26 pm 
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Hmph.

The advice here is purely for MEN to avoid a sexual harassment suit at the office. It's ABSOLUTELY NOT a guide for NORMAL interactive behaviour in an office environment! It reads like a lawyers wet dream.

After reading all of the comments, and there are quite a few good ones, it is rather unrealistic to assume that MEN are the only sexual predator in a work place. They are most definitely not! But the article is clearly subjectively written and as such of little use to any normal and sane person working.

:x

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 3:57 pm 
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Great-grandmother accuses San Diego mayor of sexual harassment
By Marty Graham
August 15, 2013

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Great-grandmother and senior citizen Peggy Shannon, who works at the Senior Citizens Service Desk in San Diego City Hall, speaks at a news conference in San Diego, California August 15, 2013. REUTERS-Mike Blake

(Reuters) - A 67-year-old great-grandmother became the latest of 16 women to publicly accuse San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment, as city officials calling for him to resign sought to turn up the pressure on the embattled politician.

Peggy Shannon, who earned $8 an hour in a part-time City Hall job providing information to senior citizens, said Filner repeatedly made unwanted advances toward her over a period of several months, asking for dates and once kissing her on the mouth. She did not give a specific timeframe for the alleged incidents. On one occasion, she recounted, "Mayor Filner came by my desk and asked me if I thought he could go eight hours in one night. I was shocked that he would say that to me."

Shannon, a great-grandmother whose job supplemented her Social Security income, said Filner's behavior left her embarrassed and in tears, but she ultimately decided to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Investigations Office and to go public. She did so at a news conference accompanied by attorney Gloria Allred, who also represents the mayor's former press secretary, Irene McCormack Jackson, who filed a sexual harassment suit against Filner and the city on July 22.

At least 15 other women have come forward since then - Shannon being the latest - to accuse the 70-year-old Democrat and former congressman of groping and other sexually inappropriate behavior. The allegations have prompted nearly every elected official in San Diego to call on Filner to resign as mayor of California's second-largest city, and a bipartisan campaign seeking his ouster through a recall election has been launched.

Filner has apologized for what he has acknowledged was a pattern of disrespectful and intimidating treatment of women, and said last month he would undergo two weeks of intensive behavioral counseling. According to his lawyers, Filner completed his therapy on Saturday - about 10 days earlier than originally planned - and would continue counseling while remaining on personal leave for another week. Representatives for Filner could not immediately be reached for comment.

TALK OF REMOVAL

Meanwhile, the mayor has come under mounting scrutiny for his use of a city-issued credit card for what opponents describe as questionable expenses and for allowing city lobbying contracts to lapse for several months.

Those two issues have led to discussions among the city attorney and City Council members of possible moves to curtail Filner's powers as mayor or force his removal from office. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith on Thursday publicly circulated a legal memo explaining a city charter provision that allows for an expedited lawsuit by the city, seeking the removal of any city official found to have made unauthorized expenditures of municipal funds. Such a judgment would be rendered by a court, not by the City Council. But it would be up to the council to authorize the filing of a declaratory relief action at the City Attorney's request, Goldsmith, a Republican, wrote.

City Council President Todd Gloria, a Democrat, has said he believes such an action would be considered in closed session with the city attorney next Wednesday, said Katie Keach, deputy chief of staff for Gloria. She said it was up to the city attorney to decide on what basis Filner might be sued for unauthorized payments from the city treasury. The city attorney's Office did not answer repeated requests for comment. Republican Councilman Kevin Faulconer, a Republican and chairman of the audit committee, has called into question some $21,000 he said Filner spent using city credit cards on a June trip to Paris. Filner has promised to reimburse the city for those expenses.

The online newspaper U-T San Diego has reported the mayor ran up $11,000 in city credit card bills over several months for which he initially failed to submit required receipts, including nearly $1,000 deemed as personal expenses. The mayor's office has said he would repay those expenses. Faulconer has set a hearing next month to review the mayor's credit card use, and Gloria has called on the mayor's office for an update on contracts for lobbyists who are paid to represent the city's interests in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Gloria has raised the idea of seeking to strip the mayor of intergovernmental responsibilities and turn those powers over to the City Council.

(Reporting by Marty Graham; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Ken Wills)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:56 am 
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Making public transport safer for women
by Laura Bates
Tuesday, 1 October 2013

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Police officers patrol the London underground. Photograph: Zuma Press/Alamy

A multi-agency operation designed to crack down on sexual offences on London's public transport has resulted in 15 arrests in a single week.

The operation, held from 23-28 September, was part of Project Guardian, a collaborative effort by the British Transport police, Metropolitan police, City of London police and Transport for London. It involved 120 plain-clothed and uniformed officers carrying out daily patrols.

Project Guardian was formed in April, after a TfL survey revealed that 15% of women and girls had experienced unwanted sexual behaviour on the transport network, but 90% of them had not reported it. The aim of the initiative was to improve levels of reporting of sexual offences, and to create an environment on public transport that does not tolerate intimidation and sexual harassment. The Everyday Sexism Project, the End Violence Against Women coalition and Hollaback London have been advising the police on the project. About 2,000 officers have now been trained to deal with these types of cases.

Since the public launch of Project Guardian earlier this year, there has been a 20% increase in the reporting of sexual offences on the transport network compared with the same period last year. From 1 April to 31 August there was a 32% increase in the detection of sexual offences, with 170 detections. (Detections occur when an offender is charged or summonsed, or receives a caution, reprimand or warning.)

Supt Nicki Watson of the British Transport police said: "It's very encouraging to see that since the launch of Project Guardian, more victims are coming forward to report what's happened to them, and more offenders are being caught. Despite these good results we must not become complacent, and will be working hard to further tackle inappropriate sexual behaviour on London's transport network. "We want victims to know that all reports are taken seriously, and we'll do everything we can to bring offenders to justice. If someone has made you feel uncomfortable on your tube, rail or bus journey – however minor it may seem to you – reporting it to police can help us target the perpetrator and prevent it happening to another passenger."

An online awareness-raising campaign was carried out on Twitter by the British Transport police and the Everyday Sexism Project during the week of action. Experiences reported by Twitter users included:

Ch Supt Sultan Taylor from the Met's safer transport command said: "Our primary aim is to safeguard the travelling public and we will be tirelessly carrying out patrols and investigations, using all manner of policing tactics at our disposal, to disrupt sexual offenders operating on the transport network in London. "We want to make sure that any kind of sexual offence that occurs on the transport network is investigated, and I would urge people to immediately come forward and report their concerns to the police to enable us to bring offenders to justice."

Anne Medlycott, assistant DI for the City of London police's public protection unit, said: "Project Guardian continues to do an excellent job promoting prevention and the detection of sexual offences that would have otherwise gone unreported. The week of action has shown how successful a joint approach can be, and the City of London police is proud to be a part of it."

• To report an incident of a sexual nature to British Transport police, call 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016 with details of what happened. For an incident that has occurred away from the railway network, call 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.
Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2013 2:40 pm 
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US-based employees allege harassment at HK broadcaster
25 July 2013

AFP - US-based workers have filed a lawsuit against Hong Kong-based broadcaster Phoenix television, alleging years of harassment including attempted rape by its bureau chief against women employees, lawyers said Thursday.

Four former or current employees are seeking damages from Phoenix, one of the few non-official broadcasters allowed to air in mainland China. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. holds a minority stake in Phoenix. The former workers alleged that Liu Zhengzhu, who was Phoenix's bureau chief until late 2012, over eight years regularly tried to lure women into sex at work functions or hotels in Washington and New York.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Washington, said Liu "intentionally preyed on the most vulnerable employees" and boasted of his connections at Phoenix's Hong Kong headquarters. "In all cases, the message -- which Mr. Liu made explicit at times -- was clear: to advance in one's career at Phoenix, the female employee, intern or applicant had to submit to Mr. Liu's unwanted sexual advances," it said. "When they were not receptive to Mr. Liu's behavior, Mr. Liu retaliated against them by unfairly criticizing them, subjecting them to harsh work conditions, denying them job opportunities, and firing them," it said.

In incidents listed in the lawsuit, Liu was accused of assaulting an employee inside Phoenix's Washington office and of going to a female employee's home in an attempt to rape her.

Parent company Phoenix New Media Ltd. did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment on the lawsuit. The lawsuit said Phoenix's management was unreceptive to concerns and kept Liu in his position despite complaints. One plaintiff said Liu forced the employee's wife into his room at New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel and fondled her against her will. The employee said when he complained to a Phoenix executive about Liu, he was told he "would have to protect his wife himself."

The plaintiffs, none of whom are US citizens, are seeking damages, including for humiliation, and a jury trial.

Source: France24.

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