When co-workers doubt complaints of sexual harrassment

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com

This is a story that I think will become a reference point, in future years, for how badly one’s co-workers react to this kind of thing:

Skepticism of women who report sexual misconduct is deeply ingrained in our culture. It’s a reflexive, often subconscious bias that can be hard to shake. Some people will take longer to shake it than others — even in the relatively hip-to-feminism era of 2016 America.

So it’s always encouraging to see people realize and publicly admit the error of their knee-jerk ways when it comes to believing victims. It sets an important example for others who are skeptical of women’s stories of harassment, and it gives other victims of harassment hope that more people might believe them if they come forward.

At the same time, Carlson still has many former colleagues, like Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and others, who haven’t apologized yet for doubting Carlson or supporting Ailes. And even in Rivera and Van Susteren’s apologies, there’s still a whiff of reluctance, a dash of lingering skepticism.

Van Susteren says she regrets “not believing a civil complaint written by lawyers,” and Rivera (who also mentions how his defense of Ailes led HarperCollins to cancel publication of his upcoming book) wrote that the Murdochs “would not have turned the world upside down but for good cause” once it became apparent that Carlson “was not alone.”

It seems Carlson’s word isn’t enough for them; she needs to be backed up by more (and more) other victims, and her claims need to be dignified by powerful executives.

This is even the case for Carlson, a famous journalist with name recognition who also reportedly spent a year secretly recording Ailes to get proof of his actions.

Most women who take sexual harassment cases to trial are nameless, faceless “accusers” with whom the public doesn’t identify or empathize. Most women who win settlements in sexual harassment cases don’t even break the six-figure barrier, much less the eight. Carlson’s $20 million settlement isn’t as massive as it seems, as Bryce Covert pointed out at ThinkProgress, when you consider how badly Carlson’s career in broadcasting has been disrupted and that this only represents five to 10 years of earnings for her.

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