For many Delaware employees, the Harvey Weinstein trial and guilty verdict might seem remote. However, Weinstein’s prosecution and subsequent guilty verdict demonstrate a new awareness of the problems of sexual harassment in the workplace. In the era of #MeToo, more women are starting to feel an increased willingness to come forward and report the harassment that they have faced.
During the trial, the prosecution had to rely on the testimony of the victims. Very little forensic evidence was available. Weinstein’s defense theory was that the relationships were all consensual. He pointed to the fact that the victims maintained friendly relationships with him after the fact as an indicator of innocence. The jury was left to weigh the victims’ credibility versus Weinstein’s. The fact that that the jury returned guilty verdicts on multiple counts portends a sea change in how sexual harassment will be handled in the future.
Like Weinstein, some supervisors use their positions of relative power over their victims to coerce them into participating in sexual acts. Even if a victim gives into unwelcome sexual advances in exchange for a promotion or to prevent a job loss, this type of behavior is illegal.
Workers who are the victims of sexual harassment may fear coming forward because of concerns about retaliation. Both sexual harassment and retaliation against workers for complaining about it are illegal. Victims of sexual harassment might want to consult with experienced discrimination and harassment lawyers to learn about the legal options that might be available to them, including filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.