Thursday, December 6, 2007

NOW endorses Hillary, sexual harassment

In a world that was logical, a group that claims to protect women wouldn't be endorsing a presidential candidate who has a top donor accused by the federal government of "egregious" sexual harassment.

Not only did Hillary Clinton accept about $165,000 in campaign donations from business owner and accused sexual harasser John Burgess, she rode on his International Profit Associates jet and spoke at an IPA company function. All while the allegations were pending in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

None of that seems to bother the Illinois chapter of NOW, which proudly endorsed the sexual harassment enabler from New York, for her "long history of support for women's empowerment."

I wonder how empowered these women felt, as described by the EEOC's pending lawsuit.

IPA's management, led by John Burgess, created a culture at IPA where sexual harassment flourished. IPA's senior managers harassed women with impunity, sending a signal to lower-level managers and employees that they could do the same. Given the tone set by IPA's senior management, it is not surprising that sexual harassment at IPA was rampant in all departments and at all levels of the company. Women at IPA routinely had to endure a gauntlet of abuse, ranging from sexual solicitations and physical harassment, to sexual comments and offensive sexual materials. Based on the extensive record of harassment presented in this case, IPA is not entitled to a finding that as a matter of law, the sexual harassment that occurred at the company was insufficiently severe or pervasive to survive summary judgment.
Here's what EEOC lawyer Diane Smason said about the case in a May 2006 story in the New York Times.
"This is probably the most egregious case of sex harassment that the Chicago district office has seen. The owner of the company (John Burgess) engaged in harassment, and that set the tone for the company, on down."
The Chicago Tribune's "Swamp" covered the endorsement and of course didn't ask about the incongruity of a so-called women's group endorsing a woman who embraces the support of John Burgess. I guess the reporter didn't feel empowered enough to ask a tough question.

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