Not Funny: Sexual Harassment Allegations and Herman Cain

By Erin Matson, NOW Action Vice President

Revelations that presidential candidate Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment while heading the National Restaurant Association, as well as suggestions that financial settlements bought silence, are deeply troubling.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately that has not stopped the widespread practice of unwelcome sexual advances, innuendos and jokes in the workplace being leveraged by men against women.

Last night, Mr. Cain’s campaign responded to news reports of the allegations with a statement that the press were “Spreading rumors that never stood up to the facts.” And yet this morning, Mr. Cain acknowledged that he was accused of sexual harassment while he was at the National Restaurant Association.

Setting the Cain campaign’s utter disregard for the facts aside, it’s outrageous for anyone to suggest that sexual harassment allegations represent political smears to be dismissed rather than the bravery and dignity of women simply trying to go to work.

This morning, Mr. Cain made a statement saying: “Yes, I do have a sense of humor. Some people have a problem with that. Herman is going to stay Herman. Thank you very much.” Feminists will continue to closely follow this story with the seriousness it deserves.

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