Katz Banks Kumin partner Debra Katz was quoted in an AP story titled, “Six months of #MeToo: Hopes are high for lasting impact.” There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future ability of women to work in offices without having to endure sexual harassment. Powerful men have been fired for misconduct at work, where prior to #MeToo their actions may have been overlooked or covered up. The Times Up Legal Defense Fund launched in January has provided legal aid to over 2,300 people, and more women than ever are standing up to mistreatment.
“We’re deluged with calls from people reporting sexual harassment,” said Ms. Katz. “In the past, people just assumed their employer wouldn’t believe them. Now, companies are extremely vulnerable to becoming the next poster child for harassment.” Ms. Katz noted that she is seeing companies firing top executives implicated in the harassment instead of keeping them on the job while paying out confidential settlements.
There has been progress in statehouses as well. More than a dozen state legislatures are addressing sexual harassment issues. Washington and California have filed and passed various anti-harassment bills that would address specific issues – such as equipping hotel workers with panic buttons.
Advocates also see #MeToo as encompassing issues beyond sexual harassment – particularly pay equality. For example, Washington State has passed a bill promoting gender-equal pay.
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