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WAR ON #MeToo:  THE REAL STORY ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT

 

By William J. Dodwell

September 3, 2018

 

Table of Contents

 

The problem

 

What hath #MeToo wrought?

 

The birth of #MeToo

 

#MeToo in the context of women’s history

 

            Cultural secularization

            Women’s equality

            The lesbian factor

            The turnaround

 

Sexual harassment defined by law

 

De facto sexual harassment

 

Suggested guidelines for assessing sexual harassment

 

            What is a reasonable grievance?

            What is NOT a reasonable grievance?

 

Sample cases

 

            The dynamics of sexual harassment claims

            Parallels in racial disparagement cases

 

The counterattack

 

            Considerations

            Tactics

 

The bottom line

 

 

  

WAR ON #MeToo:  The Real Story About Sexual Harassment

 

By William J. Dodwell September 3, 2018

 

            In the last year, the #MeToo movement has provoked an outpouring of sexual harassment accusations in the workplace that has created undue hardship for legions of underserving accused, and general discomfort for many male workers.  Opportunistic women file sexual harassment claims throughout corporate America as they exploit new public attitudes stoked by the left in its obsession with identity politics.  The latest incarnation of this thinking recently arose from a number of high profile sexual misconduct allegations involving celebrities in the news and entertainment industries.  Indeed, the ensuing bandwagon effect prompted by all media has encouraged some legitimate claims previously withheld out of fear of retaliation by the accused and his employer.  But this new inclination for filing complaints also has yielded innumerable accusations and punishments likely founded on relatively minor misbehavior not supported by applicable law.  Then #MeToo demonizes those accused through the media to garner support for the feminist cause.  As a result, the movement now has such momentum that it goes virtually unchallenged, even by conservatives. 

 

Herewith, a manifesto and a call for resistance.  To be sure, it is not a war on women, but rather combat against abusive gender politics.

 

The problem

 

            Sexual harassment law on its face appears quite punitive, even draconian.  But according to Lex Machina, a legal analytics company, the defendant prevails in 95% of court cases, suggesting that few claims pass muster on the legal merits.  Because of this track record, there is a move among liberals to amend the law to make it more accommodating to plaintiffs.  What’s more, 75% of cases settle.  This shows that claimants avoid trial because of the slim chance of winning, but also because of the cost and unwanted publicity of a trial.  Defendants and their employers shun trial for the same reasons, despite an excellent chance of winning.   As a consequence, many accused unfairly lose jobs and more for behavior that may be risque´, but within the bounds of the law, just because skittish employers fear a media backlash from sexual misconduct charges.  Something is wrong with this picture.

 

The #MeToo movement encourages claimants to exploit the vast grey area between claims that hold up under the law when tested in trial, and those subject to a much lower ambiguous threshold in a settlement case.  In so doing, #MeToo sensationalizes cases through the media to become a propaganda force of the feminist left.  It is safe to say women in the workforce are more litigious than men, as they are often quicker to sue over perceived discrimination.  Many such unheralded frivolous workplace cases commonly settle for as little as $20,000 without public knowledge.  However, the media often promote female claims against high profile figures, giving the accuser more leverage in settlement negotiations.  Fearing political fallout, employers terminate accused men for mere allegations without due process, other than perhaps a perfunctory internal investigation to cover themselves.  Many company defendants settle to the detriment of the accused employee just to cut their losses and avoid reputational damage, and accusers know it.  Justice is often lost in the process.

 

            Apologists for accusers also claim they are denied due process.  As mentioned, this is because of the strictures of the law that minimize the chance of prevailing in court, as well as the prohibitive financial and emotional cost of a trial.  Many plaintiffs therefore choose to settle or remain quiet.  But in most cases they secure a significant settlement payment, sometimes extraordinarily unreasonable, typically in proportion to the depth of the defendant’s pockets.  

 

In lieu of due process through the courts, complainants rely on #MeToo’s propagation of aggrieved women’s plights through an empathetic internet and general media delivered to a credulous public.  Some sympathizers support the movement out of ignorance or gender politics.  Others back it because of sincere concern about abuse and remedy.  But this alternative prosecution of sexual harassment substitutes for legal standards as to adversely affect the culture.  As such, the media delegitimize men’s sexuality in the workforce.  Can a man not make a pass at a woman anymore?  Or, even compliment a woman’s appearance?  Legally he can, but the new order looks askance at it, thus creating an unnatural walk-on-eggshells work environment.

 

            On the other hand, some women worry about the effect of #MeToo influenced abuses on their spouses, family members and friends.  They also fear the backlash that can diminish their career prospects as men try to avoid working with them.  And, of course, the potentially litigious atmosphere dampens the likelihood of office romances.

 

            Some claimants even invoke sexual misconduct of decades prior, which is ineligible for trial because of the relatively short statute of limitations (except for rape).  But many of those accusers come forward to vengefully inflict reputational damage at opportune times, such as elections, and to maximize a settlement.  Others receive payments from politically motivated instigators to go public with their stories.   The publicity that results bolsters the political stature of the #MeToo movement before a largely gullible public making it more feared.  This encourages more false or frivolous claims and precipitous firings. 

 

           We now learn that declared victim and #MeToo leader, actress Asia Argento, is an alleged offender herself.  According to a fellow actor, in 2013 she sexually abused him in a hotel room at age 17 when she was 37.  In April 2018, six months after accusing Harvey Weinstein of rape in 1997, she paid her accuser $380,000 to keep quiet.  This does not disqualify her rape allegation, but her hypocrisy undermines the credibility of her accusation and calls into question the seriousness of the movement.  How many #MeToo advocates just hope to spread feminist propaganda, or perhaps cash in?  The left is quite concerned about this blow to the movement’s standing as the media have begun to shun Argento.

 

This paper examines the abuses that affect many accused as they unfairly lose jobs, careers, reputations, marriages and savings.  Those excesses have created a guarded atmosphere wherever men and women commingle, especially in the workplace.  Throughout this exegesis, reference to the accuser and accused applies to both heterosexual and same-sex cases but this analysis assumes the typical “he said, she said” scenario.  The thesis is not a broad indictment of working women, most of whom are productive participants in the economy, many more so than men.  It is not about women’s equality.  Nor is it about legitimate claims of sexual misconduct.  Rather, this writing concerns the unchallenged injustices of capricious and false sexual harassment accusations.  It targets bad actors and their nefarious practices exercised in response to #MeToo influences. 

 

In particular, focus centers on exaggerated, frivolous or false claims that disproportionately and unjustifiably punish the accused to the personal, political and economic advantage of the accuser.  Injustices include plaintiffs, induced by their rapacious lawyers, shaking down defendants for exorbitant sums in settlements.  Moreover, the paper advocates a counterattack for curbing the abuses.  Thus far, the fallout from the #MeToo movement has largely escaped scrutiny because of the corporate and personal costs of a trial defense, and the feared media, market and social responses facing those who resist.  In the place of court intervention, internet and media propaganda inspired by #MeToo activism promote a supposed crisis that fosters unreasonable settlements and blindly supportive public opinion.  In the name of justice, this has to stop.

 

What hath #MeToo wrought?

 

The #MeToo movement is primarily a campaign of the left to empower women by disempowering men in the latest play on identity politics.  But it also gets full support from the right out of fear of alienating women, a huge population that traverses all social, commercial and political constituencies.  The movement’s tactics have breached appropriate ethical standards as they vilify all manner of male behavior toward women to produce serious personal, employment and societal consequences for the accused.  Meanwhile, advocates try to shame men into supporting its agenda.  Sadly, they succeed.

 

Injustices include a dearth of due process for the accused that allows plaintiffs to weaponize capricious and fabricated grievances with impunity.  Some accusations concern comments that arise from private conversations or internal conference calls.  And the #MeToo gestapo extends to speech outside the office, even to the home, sometimes resulting in domestic abuse charges.  The new paradigm is a godsend for feminists, particularly the man-hating lesbians among them that give the movement impetus.  #MeToo also invites the pursuit of potentially lucrative paydays for the litigious and their lawyers, and provides an outlet for personal vengeance against work colleagues.  Now employers face potential liability amid new workplace conventions that negate natural male tendencies toward women.  Indeed, today companies hire women at their own peril. 

 

Firings based on unsubstantiated or innocuous accusations conveniently afford upward mobility for the many women who replace them in what they might consider poetic justice.  Office romances become problematic such that men might avoid female colleagues for fear of provoking an incident.  Even occupying an office alone with a woman can be risky.  Companies eliminate alcohol at special employee events to prevent incidents of sexual misconduct with all its potential consequences for the accused and his employer.  Although alleged offenses rarely hold up in court, they trigger terminations, damage control, apologia, and quick settlements to avoid media exposure.  On the college campus sexual consent contracts, facilitated by special apps, become a defense against allegations of assault.

 

The birth of #MeToo                        

 

Tarana Burke founded the #MeToo movement in 2006.  But it acquired a new urgency in 2017 in the wake of a spate of revelations about chronic sexual misconduct in the news and entertainment industries.  Today, the crusade strives to right those wrongs everywhere and prevent them from recurring by imbedding itself in the public consciousness as a force to reckon with.  Accordingly, the movement has achieved credibility and political momentum that pervade business and society, despite the injustices many accused men have suffered at its hands.  Having expanded beyond legitimate grievance and reasonable remedy, the movement has become yet another form of pernicious political correctness bolstered by extremely one-sided media coverage that is rarely challenged.  Be it women, blacks, gays or the transgendered, the left protects from criticism or negativity every political identity group it has created in expectation of its support at the ballot box.  To be sure, #MeToo is about advancing the broader feminist agenda, and has garnered considerable support even on the right.

 

            Although #MeToo has expressed discontent over sexual harassment for some time, its latest manifestation was quite precipitous.  For many decades, risqué behavior by men in Hollywood toward women was de rigeur, including use of the casting couch for one hundred years.  Jokes about their predations abounded, even among women, while authorities looked the other way to protect their lucrative star system.  Women felt compelled to comply with the culture to protect their careers.  In some cases, women were paid to remain silent about their experiences with the sybarites in their midst.  Finally, last year actress Rose McGowan broke ranks and blew the whistle about having been raped by one particularly lecherous movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, who became the catalyst for the movement’s revival.  One by one, other women followed suit with their stories in a me-too fashion consistent with the spirit of the popular moniker.

 

With gender politics already at a fever’s pitch, #MeToo advocates and the media seized upon the many new accusations as an opportunity to galvanize women in a new cause celebre mobilized through the internet.  In the process, Hollywood declared an epiphany renouncing its hedonist past and adopted its own slogan, “Time’s up” reconciling itself with the current righteous position of the left.  The liberal media, which for years overlooked the sexual exploits of their darling, President Bill Clinton, suddenly denounced his behavior in order to have moral authority in promoting the latest cri de coeur.  The new ethos then invaded corporate America where supposedly similar improprieties were long overlooked, ushering in a transformation in workplace gender relations as sexual harassment took on greater dimensions.

 

#MeToo in the context of women’s history

 

Cultural secularization

 

            Since the 1960s many cultural and political forces have changed the social role of women and men’s attitudes toward them.  Women now comprise half the workforce and occupy many positions of importance.  Time was when some men scoffed at the notion of a woman as President of the United States because of her monthly menstrual cycle and associated mood swings and irrationality.  Today, chivalry is dead.  In fact, many women are insulted if a man holds a door for them.  The fair sex used to be protected, but now their new mores and economic status nullify much traditional deference in favor of a cultural level playing field.  Prompted by the legal availability of birth control and abortion in the ‘60s and 70s, the sexual revolution legitimized casual sex and the ensuing hook up culture, heavily promoted in movies and television as a leftist attack on traditional values.  Combined with ubiquitous pornography, which Hollywood tries to de-stigmatize and mainstream so it may capture a huge new market sector, this permissiveness brought about a highly sexualized culture that probably has made men more aggressive and less restrained in their relations with women.  The #MeToo movement is a backlash to this development.  But it is also a contradiction inasmuch as the secular culture continues to thrive without much objection among women.

 

Women’s equality

 

            The feminist movement fought for women’s equality.  That quest encouraged women to be like men even in the sexual realm such that promiscuity and vulgarity became commonplace among them.  Women dress like men.  Some feminists believe men are not necessary in their lives, given economic independence and in utero conception.  And certain women shun serious relationships to avoid submitting to male power.  Eventually, stripping became legitimate work, and prostitution as a means of financing college is almost acceptable.  Female comedians glorify women’s newfound sexual freedom in their acts.  In addition, the misogynist activities long featured on Howard Stern’s show found little opposition among women, including prominent female figures in media, entertainment and politics who appeared as guests.  Some years ago in New York City, and perhaps elsewhere, it became fashionable for women to walk in the streets with their breasts almost completely exposed in the summer on their way to and from work, seemingly desperate for men’s sexual attention, which inevitably followed

 

            Meanwhile, feminists vengefully assert equality with men in hiring, promotion and compensation with considerable success.  Purportedly, employers hired, and spared from layoff, disproportionately more women during the 2008 financial crisis, such that the period was dubbed the “mancession”.  And employers give women substantial preference in hiring in certain sectors, such as local government work and medical administration.  In an added effort to disempower men, leftist media emasculate them in commercials and television portraying them as weak, unmanly figures in their relationships with women as mates and work colleagues.  In addition, women teachers, who dominate primary education, impose gender neutrality in grammar school activities at the behest of leftist administrative officials.  They also purportedly give boys less academic attention, figuring that girls deserve priority to help them overcome their historical underdog status in adulthood.  Is it coincidence women constitute some 60% of college enrollees, and in recent years attain degrees at a substantially higher rate than men?

 

            Yet, women still enjoy some protections as the fair sex.  Absurdly, political candidates have to restrain their criticism of female opponents in public debates lest they appear to be bullying women.  Republicans anticipated that advantage for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, but happily, Donald Trump did not oblige.  A similar protocol exists in the workforce.  Foolishly, men universally acquiesce to the #MeToo movement as sacrosanct, thus assuring greater empowerment and injustice.  Criticizing the movement is an ultimate act of political incorrectness.  Those that do could lose their jobs.  As a result, the public seems to be convinced that pervasive genuine sexual misconduct occurs, as women’s allegations, prompted by the movement, go uncontested in media, the workplace and on Main Street.

 

The lesbian factor

 

Some of the behavioral changes among women over time reflect the historical impact of lesbians in the feminist movement.  This raises the question as to what extent they influence the #MeToo crusade.  Is #MeToo politically affiliated with the National Organization of Woman (NOW) which has a history of lesbian activism and leadership? By comparison, Rose McGowan, the most prominent face of the current #MeToo movement, is a seeming lesbian, judging by some interview comments and her crew cut, and whose partner, Rain Dove, is a transgendered female.  Both movements would seem to embrace a certain perverse separation from heterosexual men. 

 

What role does the proverbial man-hating lesbian play in the filing of frivolous and false sexual harassment claims?  Is #MeToo a subrosa manifestation of the LGBT community?  Does #MeToo plan to emulate the activism and thuggery the gay mafia displays in its promotion of same-sex marriage and other demands?  Perhaps when #MeToo’s real identity and motives become apparent, women will realize that the movement might not speak for the majority of them any more than NOW has all these years.  No offense to lesbians.

 

The turnaround

 

            Then a turnaround emerged as identity politics changed direction toward a new puritanism.  The left created the date rape hoax resulting in grossly unfair accusations without due process levied on college men often at great expense, including their career prospects.  Seizing on the political climate against injustices inflicted on women, as well as against racial inequities, an overzealous prosecutor charged several white Duke University lacrosse players of rape based on what turned out to be false testimony by the black plaintiffs.  The media hyped the alleged guilt of the defendants right to the end.  Although acquitted, the families of the accused suffered great financial loss.  But, happily, the prosecutor was removed and disbarred. 

 

In other developments, Sports Illustrated discontinued its iconic and lucrative annual swimsuit issue.  The Miss America pageant recently dropped the traditional swimsuit competition at the behest of former Miss America and current board member, Gretchen Carlson, who won a $20 million sexual harassment settlement against Fox News.  Classic paintings featuring female nudes, including some works of Picasso, are under reconsideration for display in some quarters.  In addition, now movie makers hire an “Intimacy Director” for nude and sex scenes to ensure the actresses are appropriately respected.

 

            And so it goes.  The culture transitioned from prudishness to permissiveness and back to what some Europeans call a Victorian order in the #MeToo movement.  But at bottom, the current phase is really about power and money accruing to women in political, economic and social circumstances through male deferral to them and greater legal recourse through settlements.  It is up to the courts to uphold truth and justice in protection of the accused, as well as the accuser.  But some judges and juries might be too politicized to expect fairness.  Today, legal funtionaries could be unduly influenced by #MeToo.  Nonetheless, sexual harassment defendants ought to insist on trial over settlement much more often to expose the injustice of many claims against them.  And the onus lies with the people to speak out in all settings about the excesses of the movement in a call for a formal resistance.

                                                                                                                          

Sexual harassment defined by law

 

            Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 defines sexual harassment as a form of employment discrimination.  The statutes apply to all employers with 15 or more employees, they pertain to any gender combination of victim and harasser, and they impose only civil liability for wrongdoing. The statute of limitations for filing a claim generally ranges from six months to a year, depending on the state; three years in New York.  Here are some of the law’s proscriptions according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

 

It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee)

because of that person’s sex.  Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for

sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of

a sexual nature.

 

… it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive

comments about women in general.

 

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand

comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious,

harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that

it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it

results in an adverse employment decision (such as the

victim being fired or demoted).

 

It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly

that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop.  The victim

should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.

 

Harassment becomes unlawful where … the conduct is

severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment

that a reasonable person would consider intimidating,

hostile, or abusive.

 

            As mentioned, mainly because allegations are difficult to prove in a “he said, she said” confrontation, case law shows that very few sexual harassment claims satisfy legal criteria.  Also, the Supreme Court ruled that an offense has to be severe enough to create “an abusive work environment”.  That can be difficult to define.  True justice calls for employers to defend themselves in court rather than settle most sexual harassment claims.  In that case, most plaintiffs likely will withdraw their lawsuits.  But Laura Beth Nielson, a sociology professor at Northwestern University, a research professor at the American Bar Foundation, and co-author of “Rights on Trial” about employment discrimination law, writes about the daunting experience a claimant experiences when taking a case to court.  Rob Walker discusses her thoughts in his 8/5/18 New York Times article entitled, “ ‘You Do Not Have the Right to a Fair Workplace’ “.

 

                        Even if you believe you are a victim of illegal discrimination,

 legal action is no easy road.  This is the focus of Ms. Nielsen’s

 studies, and her conclusions aren’t exactly uplifting. 

Discrimination can be hard to prove, and companies have

far greater resources than most employees.        

 

Even workers who win their cases often feel dissatisfied: 

Maybe they expected a bigger monetary award, or maybe

all they really wanted was to get their old job back and return

to “normal” which in the wake of a lengthy legal fight is most likely impossible.

 

            Despite the seemingly harsh language of the law, a 95% exoneration rate for defendants behooves them to fight their case in court, notwithstanding the costs and hardship.  By corollary, sexual harassment claimants do not rely much on the law.  Rather, they and their concoctive lawyers exploit the ambiguity of legal, but perhaps inappropriate, misconduct to force lucrative settlements, compensation that could not be expected through a trial.  The #MeToo movement capitalizes on that vast grey area between illegal and just inappropriate sexual conduct to produce a cultural sea change that establishes a new behavioral standard not supported by statute.  That model becomes a substitute for the law and effectively gives women leverage in exacting monetary compensation in settlement negotiations, while generally empowering themselves writ large through their victories.

 

De facto sexual harassment

 

The abuses of the #MeToo movement rest on what constitutes sexual harassment according to the new politically correct behavioral code.  Thus far, the left with its megaphone in the media has been allowed to define what is offensive, while everyone acquiesces.  In so doing, the behavioral standard has become so restrictive as to overly accommodate women and imperil men, consistent with the movement’s political goal.  Sexual harassment is a matter of degree, which within certain parameters is misclassified and should be considered innocuous, if not always appropriate.  Too many offenses are called assault when they do not really satisfy that definition.  When behavior is reprehensible, sanctions should fit the offense so the baby does not go out with the bath water.

 

            Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D., and former Lt. Governor of New York capsulizes the issue in an article entitled, “Sex Vigilantes Trash Due Process”, that appeared in the New York Post on December 13, 2017:

 

                        Men accused of boorish gestures or vulgar remarks face

the same disgrace as outright rapists.  And never mind if the

accusations lack proof and the accusers remain anonymous.

 

            Sexual harassment holds women back.  Good riddance to it. 

But in the zeal to right that wrong and to preen as defenders

of women, politicians are trampling American values –

due process, the presumption of innocence and enacting

penalties that fit the crimes.  These are too precious to lose.

 

The propaganda about a rape culture on college campuses is instructive.  A Wall Street Journal editorial reported that a survey of students at Tulane University suggests that 41% of women undergraduates have been sexually assaulted since arriving on campus.  But closer examination reveals something quite different. 

 

                        One problem is how broadly Tulane defines sexual assault. 

The school goes beyond rape or attempted rape to include

any form of unwanted sexual contact, including a stolen kiss

or hug.  The latter may be unwelcome but are they assault? 

This definition helps explain why nearly 38% of female

undergraduates and 16% of males said they’d been victims

of unwanted sexual contact.  The statistics for rape or attempted rape are lower, but the 41% can’t be broken down because some students reported more than one form of assault.  The Wall Street Journal 2/9/18

 

            In other words, less than 3% of women, not 41%, reported rape or attempted rape exclusively.  The other offenses were just unwanted sexual contact.

 

Unfortunately, Congress takes these so-called “campus-climate surveys” at face value and proposes they be mandatory at every college.  The misleading results have prompted the legislature to urge the Department of Education to establish behavioral guidelines accordingly with all the punitive implications.  Happily, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced new rules that protect college students accused of sexual assault, reversing draconian guidelines of the Obama administration that virtually denied the accused of due process.  The Department of Defense has already adopted austere behavioral restrictions as a result of Congressional hearings on sexual assault in the military.  This is not about protecting women.  It is about neutering men and criminalizing their behavior for political leverage.

 

Rape and assault are clear grounds under the law for sexual misconduct claims based on inherent physical disparities between men and women.  But female sensitivities to male aggression rest on more intangible emotional differences that can be exploited by enterprising claimants and their advocates.  In particular, they toy with the definition of impropriety and discount natural male proclivities that most women actually relish to some degree.  This image of the fragile woman is antithetical to the cultural liberation women celebrate regarding equality and individual rights.  

 

            Part of the campaign designed to advance the cause aims to get men to accept the movement.  The most obvious way has been to intimidate them into agreeing to it out of fear of social opprobrium, like any other politically correct compliance. Another way is to put men on a guilt trip about their relations with women to foster empathy for them.  Avi Klein, a psychologist in New York City and apologist for the movement, suggests this in a 7/1/18 article in the New York Times entitled, “Men, #MeToo and Therapy”.  His commentary talked about how some male patients have expressed shame about their treatment of women, even to the point of breaking into tears.  Here are some excerpts.

 

                        The #MeToo era has changed my work.  If therapy has a

reputation for navel gazing, this powerful moment has joined

men in the room, forcing them to engage with topics that they

would have earlier avoided.

 

                        But I am also heartened by the private work that men

are doing in therapy and how it can help us understand the

relationship between what has been called “toxic masculinity”

and the reservoir of shame that fuel these behaviors.       

 

                        The young man who told me a few months ago that he was

afraid I was going to judge him asked me this question after

his initial disclosure:  ‘Am I the same as Harvey Weinstein? 

Am I a monster?’ 

 

He began to cry and then sob. As the tears subsided and

we began to process it, more tears came, this time tears

of relief – that he’s not a monster, that he’s capable of

remorse and empathy.  He [had] ultimately put his own

pleasure before someone else’s discomfort.               

 

                        He had been thinking about one of the women he had

told me about.  He reached out, they met for coffee and

he apologized.

 

            Talk about the emasculation of America!  Get thee to a therapist -  #MeToo is great for business!  What’s next, whipping by a dominatrix?  Reparations?  Of course, Klein’s account is designed to induce mass male groveling in complete capitulation to the movement.  He highlights the attitude the movement wants to promote among men about women.  That mindset would further subordinate men and make them amenable to ever more concessions to the distaff. 

 

Suggested guidelines for assessing sexual harassment

 

#MeToo and the media mischaracterize much sexual misconduct.  Alternatively, consider the following suggested guidelines for determining the seriousness of accusations as to prosecution and commensurate punitive sanction.  Of course, a determination of the truth of a claim takes precedence.

 

What is a reasonable grievance?

 

            Outright rape or assault certainly qualifies as prosecutable under the law.  For example, they apply to the case of Bill Cosby drugging women for sex.  Likewise, to Larry Nassar, the former doctor of the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team who molested his subjects over some 30 years.  Cosby’s conviction is pending on appeal, while Nasser is serving 60 years in prison. Reprisals for rejecting sexual advances, such as denial of a job, a raise or promotion, are also sanctionable by law.  In fact, this theme pervades the charges against Harvey Weinstein who is also on trial for allegations of rape.  In addition, it is appropriate to suspend employment of the accused pending the outcome of the trial.

 

What is NOT a reasonable grievance?

 

            Sexual misconduct claims not supported by the law but rather defined by the new sexual culture established by #MeToo and the left call for more nuanced considerations as to disposition.  In any case, rigorous due process to determine the truth and severity of allegations is essential.

 

             Unreasonable grievance encompasses a wide range of sexualized acts, some more serious than others, as the degree of the offense is key and consent is a wild card.  These claims do not rightfully call for firing, litigation, major monetary settlement or public disclosure.  Behavioral prohibitions ought not deny reasonable expressions of basic human sexuality.  Yes, boys will be boys.  When a man looks at a woman he may be attracted and act accordingly, albeit with discretion.  He is wired that way, and historically, women generally have accepted that reality, and even welcome it.  Yet, today, men stand to lose their jobs because of innocuous acts of pursuit.  Indeed, macho is now politically incorrect.  Liberals try to downplay basic heterosexual male impulses to blur gender and sexuality distinctions in accommodation to the gay rights agenda.

 

            Ordinarily, indecent exposure and the transmission of explicit sex photos warrant dismissal.  But the following acts should not.

  • Consensual sex

  • Traditional sexual pass or flirting

  • Raised voice

  • Salacious remark, sexual innuendo, or vulgarity

  • “Sexist” comments

  • Innocent touch on the shoulder or elbow (sometimes exaggerated as groping)

  • Complimenting a woman on her appearance, including the derided

                           “spin-around”.

     

                  Again, the accused and the accuser must always be accorded genuine due process, and any sanctions should be commensurate with the offense.  Claims of misconduct committed many years prior, already inadmissible in court, ought to be dismissed from consideration.  Major monetary settlements should be avoided in order to force a plaintiff to adjudicate her claim in court, where she is likely to lose, or to compel her to withdraw her lawsuit.

     

    Women have recourse in reacting to offensive behavior.  Facing the aggressor in a cease and desist manner probably works in most cases.  An old fashioned slap in the face certainly conveys a message.  If behavior persists, she can appeal to company authorities, especially if career prospects are threatened.  If necessary, she can change jobs, recognizing the significant sacrifice.  In any case, court should be reserved for rape and assault cases exclusively.  Ideally, a claim remains a private matter that does not endanger the accused or the accuser professionally or personally. 

     

    If women expect equality in the workplace they have to muster the strength to endure certain offenses, like men do among themselves, and sometimes from women.  Failure to do so invites the old adage, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.  (Some might say, “go back to the kitchen”.)  Otherwise, women look weak or childish, and perhaps adversarial - not the qualities that inspire advancement in a man’s world which exists for a reason. (Chauvinist but true.)  Nonetheless, women must not be denied meritorious opportunity taking into account inherent physical and emotional differences between men and women.  Nor should a certain leeway for male aggressiveness condone rape or assault, which, as mentioned, warrant dismissal and prosecution following initial internal due process.

     

    Sample cases

     

    The dynamics of sexual harassment claims

     

                It seems nearly every day another prominent figure resigns or is fired in response to allegations of sexual misconduct, supposedly following an internal investigation, or not.  Oftentimes the specific behavior is not even mentioned.  Companies cave to mere accusations because they fear outrage in the media, as well as possible boycotts.  The fact is the public, i.e. their markets, could not care less.  Employers should stand up to liberal hectoring, realizing that any backlash is short-lived.  Customers respect that.  Defendant companies have to turn the tide against capricious employee claims and unreasonable settlements.  And grandstanding politically correct companies that impose sanctions on a supplier simply because of a sexual harassment complaint must be publicly challenged. 

     

    The first step is to establish the veracity of a claim.  If it has merit, a company has to determine if it is serious enough to terminate the accused, and to warrant a costly judgement or settlement.  If not, the accused should remain on the job and the employer should insist on a trial, unless a minor settlement suffices.  Defendants have to stop automatically capitulating to claimants.  Bogus or exaggerated sexual misconduct precedents invite litigation by gold diggers.  Most reprehensible are characters like high profile lawyers Gloria Allred and her daughter, Lisa Bloom, who are in the business of recruiting supposed victims of deep-pocketed aggressors and sometimes paying them to come forward publicly.  Then they prepare embellished grievance scripts for their clients based on lies or gross exaggerations, and hope for a big settlement. 

     

    A problem with sexism cases is that too often settlements do not comport with the offense, far exceeding fair compensation for an accuser’s “suffering”.  Such precedents intimidate workers and employers into effectively rendering sexual harassment politically sacrosanct, regardless of the truth and seriousness of an accusation.  A large number of trumped up claims also inures the public into believing the charades.  As such, #MeToo faces virtually no resistance.  At the same time, the cost and potential humiliation of going to trial too often forces settlements that might constitute extortion.  This has to change as it is not justice. 

     

    The following cases illustrate the dynamics at play, including the bandwagon effect of suing while the suing is good in the #MeToo era.

     

  • Fox News:
    • Over several years Bill O’Reilly faced charges from several female colleagues at Fox.  He was terminated eventually despite his long No. 1 rated cable program.  All cases were settled, the great majority at his personal expense.  The largest case concerned sexual harassment allegations of Lis Wiehl, a Fox legal analyst who settled for a whopping $32 million in 2017.  The only public disclosures concern a “non-consensual relationship” (What?) and explicit pornography sent to Ms. Wiehl.  (O’Reilly said the latter he received in a special email account designed to capture almost daily hate mail, some of which included pornography.  The account was directed automatically to his lawyers which included Ms. Wiehl.)  One asks how could any offense short of rape or assault be worth such compensation?  O’Reilly, then 67, said he was loath to expose his two teenage children to a public circus in court, thus avoiding such a spectacle was paramount at any cost.  (One wonders if his kids might think differently about losing that much from their inheritance.) There is something wrong with a system in which one accused of a possibly legal act has to pay that much to avoid public humiliation through trial.  Indeed, this circumstance invites extortion.  Ms. Wiehl’s damages and legal costs could not possibly have equated to that amount of compensation, but for O’Reilly’s personal vulnerability.

       

    • Eric Bolling was fired for allegedly sending lewd pictures to female co-workers - years prior.  He has denied the charges.  One might ask, what triggered the allegations after years of silence?  And why would Fox react to it years later, if not for political heat?  Because of the multitude of sexual misconduct lawsuits filed against Fox, including its CEO, Roger Ailes, the network is extraordinarily sensitive to appearing anti-woman with all its commercial ramifications.

       

    • Jesse Watters was suspended in the form of an immediate mandated vacation for a comment about the way Ivanka Trump held a microphone to her mouth.  Critics on the left and right inferred a salacious innuendo but Watters explained his remark was in context with a prior off-air comment during the break about the mellifluousness of her voice – like a smooth jazz broadcaster.  Watters got off with a warning for a questionable infraction in the first place.  This remedy was all that was necessary at the most.  It should be the standard for most first offenses.

       

    • Grechen Carlson won a $20 million settlement against Fox and former CEO, Roger Ailes, who allegedly exposed himself and demoted her in retaliation for her not cooperating with his advances.  Reprehensible behavior, yes.  But $20 million?  How is that justified?  Like the O’Reilly case, this settlement centered on the value of avoiding a public spectacle, not the damages to the plaintiff.

       

  • Keith Ellis, deputy chairman of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), is running for Attorney General in Minnesota.  But his campaign is disrupted by a former girl friend’s domestic violence charge against him.  Her phone video shows Ellis in a heated argument with her, calling her a b---h and ordering her out of his house.  All news media, as well as some Democrats and Republicans, call for his resignation, or suggest there may be grounds for it.  For what?  This incident is just a spat that happens every day all over the world.  But in this age of #MeToo, the media seize any public conflict between a man and woman as an opportunity to promote the woman as an aggrieved sympathetic figure.  Their indignation is not about serious abusive misconduct.  It is about creating a pretext for accommodating women at a man’s expense, and thus help to elevate her gender as a class and promote the movement.  This kind of case should remain a private matter, even for a candidate for public office.

 

  • A New York City taxi magnate was accused of frequently talking about a female employee’s breasts.  The court ordered a $1.3 million judgement.  A defendant should not suffer such a loss for an act like this.  The plaintiff should have quit.

 

  • A woman anonymously recounted her claim of sexual assault by comedian Aziz Ansari to a reporter for Babe, a feminist publication, in which she refers to the experience as “the worst night of my life”.  After going out to dinner with her, Ansari persisted in sexual pursuit for more than 30 minutes.  Even though the woman willfully became completely naked, she decided his actions constituted assault.  The two got dressed and then watched television for a while.  Afterwards, Ansari called Uber for her ride home.  Later, in response to her text message expressing her horror about the evening, Ansari responded with an apology for his selfishness.  Ansari publicly reported that he considered her lack of definitive verbal objection and her continuing presence to constitute consent.  But the woman believes Ansari should have read her nonverbal signs of discomfort.  Why didn’t she leave the apartment if she was so repulsed?  This is an example of how absurd sexual misconduct claims can be.  Even some feminists have denounced this woman’s reaction as a setback for #MeToo because she projects an image of women helplessness over a common experience that undermines the seriousness of the movement.  A bad date, yes.  Assault, absolutely not.  Nonetheless, Anzari’s career prospects remain in question.

 

  • Near-blind octogenarian Steve Wynn was deposed as CEO of the casino empire he co-founded because of accusations he coerced women employees to have sex with him over decades and promoted a “boys club culture”.  He contests the charges saying all relationships were consensual.  An added impetus to the firing was the board’s concern about corporate legal risk and regulatory costs associated with sexual misconduct, and the implications for weak governance throughout firm operations.  The statute of limitations precludes a court case.  But the #MeToo movement has provoked a plethora of accusations about long past misconduct in the hope of coercing lucrative settlements.  Company defendants should fight these cases to discourage future lawsuits.

 

  • A researcher sued Columbia University for $30 million because a tenured professor frequently talked to her about sex.  In particular, he explained how prostitutes are important for men’s health.  The accuser, who had been denied tenure, claims he tried to impose a sexual relationship on her and then sought to damage her career when she declined, thus suggesting a link to her tenure denial.  A gold digger in action?  A jury found that, although Columbia University was not liable for permitting a hostile environment, it decided the professor was personally liable for retaliation that damaged the plaintiff’s career.  However, Columbia could be liable for some payment for having hired the professor. Monetary damages are yet to be determined.  This is one of the 5% of defendants that lost a court case.  If he did wrong according to the law, so be it.  But will the upcoming compensation judgement be proportional to the transgressions?

 

  • Radio DJ Jonathan Schwartz, 79, was fired by New York City public radio station WNYC for what he indicates was complimenting a female colleague’s attire.  His program had aired on various local outlets for over 50 years.  At the same time, the station also terminated another broadcaster, Leonard Lopate, 77, for allegations of “inappropriate behavior”.  Donors to this non-profit should demand reinstatement for these broadcasters or lose their funding.

 

  • The prominent head of risk management at bond investment firm, PIMCO, resigned following allegations of inappropriately touching an employee at a charity event.  Does the punishment fit here? 

 

  • Les Moonves, long-time CEO at CBS, is accused of sexual misconduct by six women who detailed their accounts in an article published by the New Yorker.  They claim to be victims of his behavior during the period they worked with him from the 1980s to late 2000s, far beyond the statute of limitations but damaging enough for CBS to consider firing him for public relations reasons.  The accusers also hold CBS liable for tolerating “systemic harassment against women”.  It so happens that Moonves and CBS have been under pressure by controlling shareholder, National Amusements, Inc., to merge with Viacom.  His opposition has been instrumental in scuttling merger discussions.  Reportedly, his removal because of these accusations would significantly improve the chance of this business combination.  Have pro-merger forces orchestrated the allegations for maximum effect given the current #MeToo environment?  Moonves remains as CEO pending an investigation by an independent law firm.  In knee-jerk fashion, Moonves’ alma mater, Bucknell University, deleted from its website content celebratory of this famous alumnus.  Everybody runs scared in these cases and sides with the accused.  Justice be damned.  According to The Wall Street Journal, one unnamed CBS source said, “I think the board realizes as a whole this is a very, very, very serious situation.”  Doth protest too much.  A thrice-repeated superlative renders the statement phony as an eight dollar bill.  Of course, CBS’s reaction is really about feigning concern to ward off a media backlash and to mitigate potential legal costs.

 

Parallels in racial disparagement cases

 

Even above sexism in the hierarchy of political correctness and identity politics is racial discrimination and disparagement.  Indeed, sexual politics, under the auspices of #MeToo has borrowed from its racial analogue.  Racial politics has degenerated from prosecuting legitimate discrimination to vilifying one for any hint of derision based on race, intended or not.  The effect of assigning this behavior verboten status is to intimidate and silence would be offenders, and thus establish the sanctity of this PC proscription.  A common form of this prohibition is the “racial slur”, even if uttered in private conversations. 

 

Consider the following examples of political correctness entrenchment based on race and notice the similarities to sexual misconduct charges.

 

  • ABC fired Rosanne Barr and initially cancelled her top rated revived sitcom for jocularly likening black Obama adviser, Valerie Jarrett, to an ape, as in the movie “Planet of the Apes”.  How does such an indiscretion justify terminating a huge money maker for ABC, as well as 200 jobs?  To be sure, there is virtually no real public concern about the slur to warrant that action, despite media horror.  The termination decision is pure left-wing politics to which ABC and the rest of mainstream media are beholden.  Eventually, ABC decided to reconstitute the show without Barr the next season thereby saving the jobs.

 

  • The Board of pizza chain Papa John’s forced its CEO and founder, John Schnatter, to resign for using the N-word.  The deed occurred innocently during an internal conference call with a digital marketing agency which was preparing him for media questions about his criticism of the NFL national anthem protests.  Schnatter’s complaint that the players’ behavior adversely affected company sales, along with the racial implications of his disapproval, called for PR intervention.  The company did not seem to care about the benign context of Schnatter’s utterance, which was an explicit reference to Colonel Sanders having used the N-word in the past with impunity.  Rather, the company ran scared.  Nor was the company concerned that Schnatter later reported the marketing agency, Laundry Service, demanded $6 million to keep the incident out of the media.  Pure extortion.  Later, Forbes broke the story after Schnatter refused to pony up.  Major League Baseball (MLB) and several of its teams suspended Papa John’s ads when the story went public.  Again, there is not a chance that the consuming public cares a whit about Schnatter’s comment.  The reaction is all about grandstanding to avoid a media backlash which effectively helps to perpetuate leftist identity politics.  That is what #MeToo is all about.

 

  • Paramount CEO, Amy Powell, was fired for “inappropriate remarks”.  Specifically, she commented during a conference call about a new television program in the making that black women are angry and black children are raised by a single parent.  A call participant reported the incident to HR and the knee-jerk reaction ensued.  Preventing a liberal media firestorm is paramount, regardless of public indifference.  Justice be damned.  Companies have to fight this nonsense when it happens and consumers should boycott their products if they do not.

 

  • Paula Deen of television food fame was fired for having uttered the N-word 30 years before.  How outrageously unjust is that?  It is all about demonstrating the power of the left through its PC arsenal and ensuring its perpetuation.

 

  • Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ron De Santis, said that his socialist black opponent, Andrew Gillum, should not be “monkeying around” with the successful status quo.  Liberal media accuse De Santis of a racial slur.  Beyond absurd.

 

The foregoing is just a sampling of how capriciously the left plays the race card today.  Now it follows the same play book in the gender wars through #MeToo.

 

The counterattack

 

Considerations

 

Unless a plaintiff has a very compelling case, accused employers and employees have to stop caving to mere allegations because of understandable fear of litigation costs, media reaction, reputational damage, and ad sponsor withdrawals.  But what incentive does a company have to defend itself and an accused executive in view of those risks?  It is much easier to fire the accused, who is expendable in most cases, and be done with it.

 

But firing may not be enough inasmuch as a lawsuit could ensue anyway.  And not contesting an allegation may encourage other accusers to extort concessions that could impair employee morale, and even company operations, to the detriment of corporate America in general in a new adverse culture.  The money potentially saved by not settling, the goodwill earned from a likely court victory, as well as a possible deterrent against future lawsuits might make the trial route worth it.  What’s more, sexual harassment settlements often require workplace reforms that might include unwarranted accommodations to women employees, such as unmerited preference in hiring and promotion.  Consider the new ubiquity of women in the Fox News lineup resulting directly from the many sexual misconduct settlements there.

 

As mentioned, only 5% of sexual harassment cases that go to trial result in victory for the accuser.  As such, defendants should resist settlements as much as possible.  The plaintiff is loath to go to trial because of the long odds of winning, as well as the costs, time consumption, possible humiliation from the disclosure of tawdry details, and the aggravation.  Even a plaintiff victory may yield disappointing compensation, and getting a job back after going to court is very unlikely.  If a defendant rejects a settlement and holds out for a trial, the accuser will likely withdraw her lawsuit.  If she does not, she will enlist support from #MeToo to conjure up feminist hyperbole in the media to garner public sympathy that could hurt a defendant’s case and force a settlement later when he relents to the opprobrium.

 

Of course, the accused faces the same unpleasantness in a trial but he has a 95% chance of winning, as sexual harassment and discrimination are hard to prove.  But unfortunately for an accused employer and employee, the monetary costs from media vilification and possible boycotts for challenging a sexual harassment claim may exceed any settlement savings, hence the tendency to avoid court.  To be sure, a perceived anti-woman label could really hurt profits.  However, such propaganda and reputational damages are short-lived.  Better to bear the hardships of a trial and set an example for corporate America against fraudulent and politicized lawsuits.  Mass employer resistance through trial would surely decimate sexual harassment claims.  However, multiple concurrent lawsuits such as those Fox News faced the last couple of years virtually preclude trials in every case.

 

In addition, public attitudes about sexual misconduct have to change so that people largely ignore politically correct media firestorms that lead them to believe that unbridled sexual transgression is everywhere.   For example, many have changed their minds about the threat of man-made climate change in the face of continued media propaganda and exposed corruption among advocates.  Also, public opinion appears to have moderated regarding prosecutorial zealotry in child abuse cases where so many innocent accused suffered.  But that took decades.  In the meantime, employers have to adopt effective tactical methods to defend against frivolous and false accusations.  It is up to defendants and public opinion to turn the tables in a return to normalcy.

 

On a larger scale, companies must fight the public herd instinct that always favors the accuser inasmuch as no one dares to criticize the movement.  Complainants rely on that popular support and fear.  But enough corporate challenges will achieve the critical mass needed to turn one-sided public opinion against #MeToo.

 

Tactics

 

            Here are some hardball maneuvers for defeating #MeToo as they relate to frivolous and bogus accusations of sexual misconduct.  Consider them a Sol Alynski-like “Rules for Radicals” for employers, other defendants and their supporters.

 

  • Rally grass roots support for a non-violent insurgency using “War on #MeToo” T-shirts, hats, buttons and bumper stickers.  Feature man/woman couples arm-in-arm wearing the gear.

     

  • Go to court rather than settle, regardless of the drawbacks, if the plaintiff rejects a minor settlement.  Historically, defendants win 95% of trial cases.  File a counter lawsuit, if justified, to deter future accuser litigiousness.  Set precedents for fighting back.  Right now, a legal settlement is almost a given.  It is just a matter of how much.  Humiliate the accuser and her lawyer in the media by exposing ill motives and personal dirt (no slander, just facts) through covert machinations.  Consider how Stormy Daniels’ discredited lawyer, Michael Avenatti, was exposed.  Reports reveal the following:  1) His law firm’s bankruptcy; 2) A federal lien for $5 million of back taxes on a coffee chain he owns; 3) A $10 million judgement for payment due a law partner; 4) A settled lawsuit for nonpayment of monies owed actor Patrick Dempsey concerning a business transaction; 5) His wife’s recent divorce filing for his profligate selfish lifestyle to her detriment.  If a defendant demonstrates that a legal foe is disreputable, public revelations have to hurt his future and perhaps give him pause in litigation.  Get the goods on the judge as well if adverse political motivation is suspected.  Theoretically, over time these tactics would lead to far fewer sexual harassment cases.  Far fetched?  Lawyers conduct opposition research and employ dirty tricks all the time.  After all, it is war.

     

  • Fire suspected troublemakers before they sue for sexual harassment.  An employer is legally free to terminate an employee for any reason other than discrimination, barring specific contract proscriptions.  Therefore, the employer must ensure that the termination does not appear to be retaliation for an anticipated sexual harassment claim.  State of the art surveillance technology is available that could surreptitiously monitor employees to detect brewing sexual harassment lawsuits.  For example, employers increasingly use sensors to track working performance, communications, and customer service.

     

  • Hire as few women as possible without triggering lawsuits.  Promote a “hire them at your peril” mentality.  This mitigates the difficult task of identifying female troublemakers in the recruiting process.  The policy is more easily enacted in small companies having fewer than 50 employees that lie under the legal radar.  This policy is no different from the predominant female hiring that occurs in many employment sectors in contravention to discrimination laws.  Unfortunately, this practice means forgoing many promising female candidates that might be better than the males hired.  War is hell.  When the lawsuits abate significantly, employers may resume normal hiring.

     

  • Blackball accusers who have pursued flimsy sexual harassment claims.  Furtively develop an industry database to block their future employment.  If a litigious employee is hired elsewhere, inform the new employer about her past lawsuit.  A court of law might find that discriminating against a former litigant is unlawful because it undermines her right to sue.  But it is very hard to prove.  The prospect of bearing a permanent scarlet letter in the employment market will surely diminish sexual harassment claims.  War is really hell.

     

  • Publicly expose advertisers that withdraw business simply because of a sexual harassment allegation, or for challenging an accuser.  Counter their boycotts.  Take solace in knowing that opposition boycotts do not last.

     

  • Promote solidarity among industry companies to fight employee lawsuits, and challenge politically motivated advertisers who act as a block in dropping accounts.  Since all companies face the potential threat of sexual misconduct claims, an industry legal defense fund to finance #MeToo lawsuits would be very helpful.

     

  • Recognize that most employees and the public are sympathetic to the unjustly accused and punished, but may be reluctant to express their support because of potential professional and social consequences.  Harness that backing to combat media vilification related to a specious sexual harassment case.  Many within and without will cheer quietly on the sidelines as they see political correctness challenged.

     

  • Distinguish the company from the competition by supporting the concern of male employees and executives about potential abusive accusations.  Encourage their input.  End the one-sidedness.  Foster a reputation for such empathy that could be a selling point for recruiting and retention amid perhaps wary employment candidates.

     

  • Defy and mock advocates who promote exaggerated sexual harassment representations that publicly bolster the #MeToo movement and perpetrate political correctness.  Expose the culprits like those who call out man-made climate change fraudsters and race hustlers.

     

    The die is cast.  It is time to declare war on the #MeToo movement for its excesses. This requires employers and the public, to include many women allies, to galvanize in a concerted effort to stop this train.

     

    The bottom line

     

                While some sexual harassment accusations arise from severe behavior and warrant prosecution, pandemic sexual transgression that #MeToo and the political left would have people believe is grossly exaggerated.  Rather, feminists and their advocates in the media make hay over almost any public male-female confrontation to demonize men and thus elevate women for political ends.  In the process, many men suffer employment and financial losses at the hand of accusers, some for alleged offenses of decades prior. 

     

    Plaintiffs avoid a test of their case on the merits in a trial by opting for the settlement process.  The proof is in the pudding.  95% of sexual harassment cases that go to trial are decided for the defendant showing that claims do not hold up to legal scrutiny.  Mainly because of the low probability of a court victory, 75% of plaintiffs choose to settle.  This affords them the opportunity to extort the accused through negotiation maneuvers at the behest of counsel.  Indeed, the plaintiff lawyer savors the lucrative contingency fee from a settlement that likely far exceeds a court determined attorney stipend in a trial case.  Meanwhile, the #MeToo movement propagandizes the plight of the accusers in the media, especially the internet.

     

    Both defendants and plaintiffs dread humiliation from personal disclosures and outright lies that become public record in a trial.  They also recoil at the cost, time consumption, and anxiety associated with that process.  By contrast, settlements are generally private documents protected by confidentiality agreements.  As such, litigants tend to settle rather than fight – the accused reluctantly, the accuser enthusiastically.  Corporations facing sexual harassment lawsuits fear a #MeToo inspired anti-women backlash in reaction to bucking the politics of the issue as trumpeted in the media on the left and the right.  As such, a settlement may cost considerably less than an impolitic challenge in court – or so companies think.

     

    At present, companies conduct internal investigations to appear even-handed.  But are they really equitable?  As mentioned, playing defense is risky because of potential media backlash.  If an investigation discloses truly fireable offenses that create a threatening environment under the law, the employer’s response is easy.  But is an executive, who is innocent by the law’s standards, morally entitled to a defense, regardless of the consequences for the employer?  In any case, employers may levy appropriate punitive measures for sexual misconduct internally, short of true rape and assault, to include dismissal, such that a trial or settlement may be avoided.

     

                To defeat #MeToo malice, defendant companies and individuals have to fight back by taking their cases to trial, despite the pain, to avoid exploitation through an exorbitant settlement, and to ensure a likely victory through due process based on the law.  To do so in large numbers would result in plaintiffs withdrawing lawsuits in droves.  The ones that do not, face little chance of winning a conviction, other than in the most compelling cases.  Sexual harassment claims and settlement extortion would largely disappear, and #MeToo along with it.  Companies, in concert with industry forces, must employ tough pro-active tactics to discourage sexual harassment lawsuits.  Then public attitudes will change as weak claims abate, and a more collegial and just workplace returns.  Transgressive sexual conduct cases can be resolved internally and include termination.  Bring on the resistance.

     

                Absent a preponderance of trial prosecutions, #MeToo as a feminist cabal will continue to propagandize women’s grievances in the workplace and other settings.  It happens with full cooperation of the media in an effort to convince the public that serious sexual transgression is rampant.  It is all about empowering women by disempowering men through lawsuits without due process based on contrived behavioral standards that do not comport with the law.  Ironically, dishonest or frivolous lawsuits make women look anything but powerful, flying in the face of their considerable social and professional progress to date. 

     

    And it is not just about lawsuits.  The media sensationalize behavioral conflicts between men and women to gin up gender politics to benefit feminism and the broader liberal agenda.  In fact, the #MeToo movement may have derived from the larger LGBT platform.  At bottom, #MeToo may not ultimately represent women any more than the largely militant gay NOW crowd has.

     

    Employers must be vigilant in identifying potential troublemakers in the hiring process and thereafter, and react accordingly.  Companies, employees and the public, including many supportive women, have to change the political climate through effective opposition, recognizing that most people are sympathetic to challenging injustice.  The resistance must alter current media-driven monolithic opinion by defying and ridiculing the #MeToo movement like any form of political correctness.  Employers should be prepared to boycott defecting advertisers that grandstand to the political left.  If accomplished, credibility about capricious and bogus sexual harassment grievance will gradually evaporate like public acceptance of man-made climate change.  Hopefully, much faster.

     

                                                    ©2018 William J. Dodwell

                  

    William J. Dodwell is a retired corporate executive, management consultant and writer in the financial industry with particular expertise in the capital markets.  He has written in professional journals, the trade press and corporate publications. Mr. Dodwell is a Certified Public Accountant (Inactive) licensed in the State of New York.  He has a website called The Comprehensive Conservative in which he writes primarily long form pieces on politics, culture and the economy.  It may be accessed at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/

                                                                         

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