Dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The arrest of local Howard Johnson’s owner Jonathan LaRock comes at the same time the nation is learning about allegations of sexual abuse by Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein.

National headlines tell the story of men in authority positions using their influence to get away with the sexual harassment or worse, of women.

“It is really literally power without oversight,” Deb Best, a human resources professional, said.

She says that’s what all these high profile cases have in common, including the allegations against Weinstein.

“He felt that he had complete power and he could do whatever he wanted.”

The conversation has arrived in the Capital Region with the arrest of LaRock. He’s accused of harassing up to 15 women. Best says it highlights a failure in how some businesses operate.

“There should always be somebody to go to if the person in power is the one doing the harassment.”

Even if there is an HR department to go to, Best says there are many reasons why women don’t range from not recognizing it to the fear of losing one’s job and feeling ashamed.

“Saying to someone, hey look at this funny dirty video that’s also harassment. We all kind of go to blame the victim even when it happens to us and the embarrassment of that keeps them from saying something.”

Best has been in HR for three decades and knows how prolific workplace harassment is.

“Early in my career, I’ve been harassed a couple of times I think everyone experiences it.”

She says changing the status quo is in the hands of every employee with supervisory responsibilities.

“You can be the change and you don’t have to wait for the culture to go ahead and change itself, it happens in those little ways.”

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