Debra Katz Discusses the Failed System surrounding Sexual Harassment with NY Times, SF Chronicle

October 16, 2017

Katz Banks Kumin partner Debra Katz was quoted in articles for the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle titled, “Nearly 3 Decades Later, Anita Hill sees the Needle Moving.” In the piece, Anita Hill – who testified before the Senate that Supreme Court candidate Clarence Thomas had sexually assaulted her and others – opines hopefully that the Harvey Weinstein scandal will “move the needle.” The humanization of victims – powerful, strong, and popular women at that – moves people, and can inspire real meaningful change, according to Ms. Hill.

However, a broken system still blocks progress even when victims wish to speak out about their experiences. Employment contracts often include a clause that workplace claims must be resolved through arbitration – a far more private and quieter process than trial.

Ms. Katz adds that “It conceals what happens … and you’re denied the opportunity to have your day in court with a jury of your peers.” Additionally, employers are strongly favored “because the arbitrators want to be rehired.”

Furthermore, confidentiality clauses are almost always included in settlements. And while many see this as protecting the perpetrator, Ms. Katz believes that many victims would rather move on with their careers, and not have the stigma of having filed a claim attached to them.

Change will be gradual and difficult, but with every case of sexual misconduct made public, and the more conversations we have, Ms. Hill is confident that “inch by inch, we will make some change.”

The AP picked up the story, and can be viewed here.

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