Should Bystanders Be Required To Report Sexual Harassment?

By Erin Jordan
The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Because many sexual harassment targets don’t report harassment, emphasis is shifting to bystander intervention.

The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

After the ouster of a state agency director accused of sexual harassment, questions remain about whether other employees who allegedly heard sexual comments and saw inappropriate acts over multiple years reported the behavior.

If they didn’t say anything, why not?

Some government agencies and public universities now require bystanders to report sexual harassment to take the burden off the employee being harassed.

“That person is already under threat,” said Debbie Dougherty, a professor of communication at the University of Missouri. “They’ve been potentially traumatized and isolated. I don’t think it’s fair or right we make them feel like they are responsible for reporting the behavior.”

Fear of retaliation
Gov. Kim Reynolds on March 24 fired David Jamison as director of the Iowa Finance Authority after receiving a complaint from one of his employees.

The woman, whose name was redacted from the complaint before it was made public, said Jamison verbalized comments about her breasts, asked about her sex life, repeatedly invited her to his hotel room and made sexual gestures and jokes.

“I am terrified about coming forward, but his behavior is escalating and has to stop,” the woman wrote. “It is not safe for women to be around him.”

The woman said Brian Crozier, the Finance Authority’s chief administrative office, recently had reprimanded Jamison for his behavior, and Jamison replied, “You must be allergic to a paycheck.”

Mark Thompson, the agency’s general counsel, also told Jamison to stop or be quiet, the complaint notes.

The letter doesn’t say whether Crozier or Thompson ever reported Jamison’s alleged behavior to anyone outside the agency. Crozier declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday morning. Thompson did not immediately return an email or a phone message Tuesday.

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