San Luis Obispo County

Local reaction to high profile sex harassment cases

Some see national cultural shift in attitudes

Local reaction to string of high...

PISMO BEACH, Calif. - The sudden firing of NBC Today Show host Matt Lauer for alleged inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace comes on the heels of CBS Morning News host and veteran journalist Charlie Rose losing his job under similar circumstances.

Local reaction to the string of sexual harassment cases involving high profile figures in media, entertainment and politics varies from shock to acceptance that attitudes about inappropriate behavior in and out of the workplace are changing.

"Now that some people have come forward I think more and more are going to come forward", said tourist Gina McTeer in Pismo Beach, "its kind of a draining of the swamp so to speak."

"Women were afraid to speak out because they'd lose their job", added tourist Analisa Lane, "now the way society is changing and women are becoming more boisterous, I think that it is going to change, its not going to be the same anymore."

There are considerable legal consequences for employers when it comes to allegations or complaints of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior or communication in the workplace and a failure to address it in a timely manner.

"People need to speak up when there are concerns", said San Luis Obispo employment law attorney Susan Waag, "every employer should have a way for people to be heard so that those issues can be addressed before it gets to be devastating for everyone involved."

Human Resources consultants and employment law attorneys often use videos to illustrate what is and what is not acceptable workplace behavior or communication.

"An example is someone comes to their manager and says they're being harassed by so and so and the manager's response is oh, don't let it bother you, they're just kidding or just don't let it get to you", Waag says, "the thinking is maybe they are calming that person down and making them relaxed when all they're really doing is saying, I don't really care, forget about it."

"I think its great there is renewed awareness in the issue of harassment", Waag added, "it's important to remember it's not simply harassment on the basis of gender, but also prohibited is the harassment of any other protected class including someone's sexual orientation, their disabilities, their age, their race, you name it pretty much, in California most people would fall into one protected class or another."

Employers are now spending more time, money and resources to educate their employees on sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

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