The #MeToo movement began last year when allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Actresses who had worked with him began to share their stories of sexual misconduct by him and others and then the movement took off, with people across the nation revealing the names of those who had for years engaged in sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported early this year that the first settlement was for $55,000. Earlier this month, the newspaper said the Wisconsin Department of Corrections had reached a second settlement with a former employee who had complained about sexual harassment by the same supervisor involved in the earlier settlement.
It seems obvious, but is perhaps not obvious enough. When someone is being accused of sexual harassment, that same person should not be the one to investigate the claim. Yet that is exactly what happened when Wisconsin's second top Veterans Affairs official was accused in 2014 of harassing a former veterans program supervisor.
A short drive north of Milwaukee will land you in Germantown. The suburb is known for German food, its community garden and its farmers market. The town has made recent headlines after its fire chief quit under a cloud of allegations of “inappropriate” behavior.
House speaker Michael Madigan is a powerful figure in Illinois politics. But his vaunted political operation has been disrupted by a woman who alleges that Madigan aide Kevin Quinn sexually harassed her and that she has been a victim of retaliation as well.
If you drive about 250 miles southwest of Chicago, you will come to Fort Madison, Iowa. The modest town of about 11,000 sits along the Mississippi River. Among its biggest employers is the Iowa State Penitentiary. The prison, the state and the Department of Corrections were recently the focus of a lawsuit filed by a former guard who said she was fired for complaining about sexual harassment.
Across Wisconsin and the nation, the #MeToo movement has encouraged women to speak up about sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. Men in high-profile positions in politics, government, entertainment and other industries have been removed after accusations of sexual misconduct were leveled.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel filed open records requests with the University of Wisconsin system to learn how employee sexual misconduct allegations have been handled. According to a recent article, the newspaper learned that there have been nearly 100 complaints of sexual harassment or assault have been formally investigated since 2014.
The editor of the Milwaukee business news publication BizTimes says it is time for area business owners and managers to ask themselves a couple of important questions. First, is anyone in your firm creating a hostile working environment for women?
Regular readers of our Wisconsin and Chicago metro area employment law blog know that news reports on TV and in the papers have often focused in recent months on stories about sexual harassment. Although coverage of the brave people who have come forward has been overwhelmingly positive, one aspect of their stories still receives too little attention: the workplace retaliation workers suffer after reporting sexual harassment.