#MeToo: Sexual Harassment and Executive Compensation

Source: John L. Utz, Journal of Pension Planning & Compliance, Vol. 44, No. 4, Winter 2019
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It would not surprise me to learn that workplace sexual harassment has a history as long as that of working relationships themselves. The incidence of misbehavior may have varied with geography, work setting, or the times, but bad behavior seems obdurate. Power is intoxicating and, when combined with carnal impulses (and perhaps an executive’s inflated self-image and underdeveloped empathy for co-workers), makes possible mischief that is personally hurtful and institutionally corrosive.

The intractability of workplace sexual harassment has been noted with woe by a taskforce formed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”). That taskforce—the two co-chairs of which were EEOC commissioners—reported that studies of sexual harassment suggest 25 percent of women, at the low end, report having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Select Taskforce on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, June 2016, p. 8. Also, this is the result 30 years after the Supreme Court held that workplace harassment is an actionable form of discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986).

Perhaps 2017 will prove to have been a watershed year, both in the effort to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment, and the effort to identify and punish wrongdoers…..