Teaching about harassment in the workplace

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – In the wake of multiple high profile allegations of sexual misconduct, local law students are more interested than ever in advocating for victims.

Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and now Matt Lauer is the latest in a series of high profile men accused of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

“This is not anything new, nor do I think this is anything that will end nearly. I think there are stories upon stories that haven’t been told yet,” Melissa Breger, Professor of Law, said.

Breger is just one of the professors at Albany Law School who says students are increasingly interested in the laws governing sexual harassment.

“Not even just in the workplace but in terms of personal violence, whether it’s intimate partner violence, sexual assault, all aspects, but certainly in the workplace. It has really been an area of interest for many students who want to work to give voice and empower litigants.”

Down the hall, another law professor said that the recent allegations coming to light are also influencing some of her lectures.

“I teach a class called “Gender and Work” and one of our units has been on sexual harassment in the workplace,” Donna Young, Professor of Law, said. “So we’ve been talking about that pretty consistently even though it’s just one topic that we cover. I have a lot of students who have been coming to my office and talking to me about what’s going on in the news and it’s kind of a difficult topic, but I think students are really interested in it.”

Professor Young says that aspiring lawyers have always studied these cases but now they have more than theories to draw on.

“These topics come up regularly. They’re not new, but I think what I have now that I didn’t have before are examples.”

“We’ve always talked about it in terms of what’s on the books, but now there just seems to be a cultural awareness,” Breger said.

Law professors said that if you feel you have been sexually harassed in your workplace, you should consult your company’s code of conduct before consulting outside legal counsel but don’t wait.

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