By Rex Huppke
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As columnist Rex Huppke points out, “It’s 2017. We should be breaking down the obstacles that might prevent a worker from reporting abuse, not allowing additional obstacles, like the wrath of internet trolls, to stand in a person’s way.”
There have always been obstacles that prevent women from reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.
Will they believe me? Will the problem be fixed? Will my reputation be hurt? Will I wind up losing my job?
It would be nice to think we live in more enlightened times, that a person experiencing abuse could step forward without fear.
But the truth, as illustrated by recent allegations of harassment at Uber made by a former employee, an engineer who penned a viral blog post about her experiences, is that those obstacles exist as much as harassment does, and there’s now an added concern: online trolls always eager to attack.
The Uber case began with a blog post by Susan Fowler that detailed a yearlong pattern of sexual harassment and discrimination that she says was met with indifference and even a blaming-the-victim response by the company’s human resources department.
Fowler described one of her early experiences: “On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. … It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.”
According to her blog post, Fowler was told the manager “was a high performer” and that they “wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to.”