April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and that’s something that Mayor LaToya Cantrell takes seriously.
“Since we’ve been here at City Hall, we have had to address it head-on,” Cantrell says in a video posted to Facebook last Friday.
Cantrell’s administration maintains a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment or, “anything that creates a toxic or hostile work environment. All city employees are required to undergo mandatory sexual harassment training, and department directors have been given the power to investigate any sexual harassment claims.
“Every claim reported to a manager is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated,” Cantrell stated.
Sexual harassment is recognized as a form of employment discrimination by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). The EEOC defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature,” that “explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”
The EEOC received 26,978 claims of workplace harassment in 2017, with women making eight in ten sexual harassment charges. Black women were the most likely of all groups to have filed sexual harassment charges, and 1 in 17 charges filed with the EEOC included allegations of racial discrimination.
Other important statistics include:
- Service industry employees such as waitstaff and hotel housekeepers accounted for 14 percent of harassment charges
- Workers who perform their duties in isolated spaces report higher than average rates of sexual harassment
- Women working in male-dominated professions (such as construction) are more likely to experience harassment
- Working in lower-wage jobs entails a higher risk of sexual harassment
According to Mayor Cantrell, those who violate the city’s sexual harassment policies are subject to a fine of up to $500.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.