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Part 1: Remembering a landmark Wisconsin sexual harassment case

The #MeToo movement surged into the national consciousness in October of last year. Women across the nation have since then made clear on social media that sexual harassment in the workplace is a pervasive problem that in one way or another affects all of us. But the genesis of the movement happened long before Harvey Weinstein’s misdeeds came to light.

A landmark case here in Wisconsin laid the groundwork for #MeToo, a Milwaukee TV station pointed out recently.

Carol Zabkowicz was working in an Oak Creek warehouse back in the 1970s when she was subjected to sexual harassment. "It was ugly behavior that went on for three years," Zabkowicz said recently. The forms of harassment varied, she said, including “name-calling, it was graffiti, it was dropping their pants, shouting. Very ugly."

She reported the misbehavior to her supervisors, but a small cadre of male co-workers relentlessly made her work life miserable; so miserable that she eventually took a medical leave of absence.

She was pregnant and her doctor said the harassment was having a negative impact on her unborn baby. The physician diagnosed her condition as "psycho-physiological gastro-intestinal disease due to harassment at work."

Attorney Michael R. Fox represented Zabkowicz and remembers what she went through.

"It was a horror story,” Fox said. “I just didn't believe this would happen to somebody.”

He said that at the time “almost no sexual assault cases had been tried, so very few employees knew they had any legal recourse or that the legal recourse would be adequate.”

Zabkowicz refused to quit. She was earning a good living and her family needed the money.

There is much more to tell about this important case. We'll have more in our next blog post, so please check that out.

Until then, please feel free to contact attorney Fox of Fox & Fox, S.C. to discuss workplace sexual harassment and your rights and legal options.

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