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Sexual harassment a huge problem at some California universities

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are serious problems in our state and in our country. Consequently, it is rather troubling that a recent report indicates that sexual harassment and sexual assault cases are possibly not being handled sufficiently at four particular California universities. One of those universities is the University of California at Berkeley, just outside of the San Francisco area. The report reviewed the period from 2009 to 2013, featuring over 300 cases.

The report alleges that only limited efforts were taken at the schools to train staff to handle student reports of abuse/harassment, and even claims that school officials discouraged almost half of the students who come forward claiming to be victims of such abuse/harassment from filing formal complaints. There was even a reported incident in which at least one member of a Berkeley coaching staff chose not to report an incident of sexual violence that he or she was aware of.

While this report and the data within it apply only to universities, they are indicative of a problem that many could face in the workplace. If sexual predators are not held accountable for their actions, and if victims are discouraged from taking action against their attackers, the problem could continue well into the students' adult lives. In a few short years, an employee may experience sexual harassment by his or her boss or coworkers and could be afraid to address the issue if they feel that such misconduct generally goes unpunished.

Despite the implications of this report, employees should know that they do not have to put up with sexual harassment. California law is quite clear when it comes to employees' rights, and employees are protected from sexual harassment at the workplace. If you are facing sexual harassment at your place of work, you shouldn’t have to be afraid to stand up for yourself. The law is on your side.

Source: CBS SF Bay Area, "UC Berkeley Among California Universities Needing To Improve Sexual Assault Policies, Audit Funds," June 25, 2014

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