Women's Networking Group Allegedly Sexually Harassed Female Employees

Illustration for article titled Women's Networking Group Allegedly Sexually Harassed Female Employees

The National Association of Professional Women bills itself as "America’s most inclusive network — containing nearly half a million professional women.” Now that four former women are suing NAPW for alleged sexual harassment, the networking group might have to revamp its brand a lil.

From the New York Times:

In a complaint filed in Federal District Court in Central Islip, N.Y., on Sept. 25, the four — Lisa DeLisi, Crystal Alexander, Monique McCabe and Anika Cosbert — said that their former manager, Krissy L. DeMonte, had regularly pinched and grabbed their buttocks and called them vulgar names. After they complained, they said, they were fired or forced to resign because of intolerable working conditions.

In a separate lawsuit filed in New York State court in Nassau County in January, Rose Costantino, another former association employee, said that Ms. DeMonte had approached her from behind on many occasions as she sat at her desk and grabbed, squeezed or rubbed her neck and then dropped her hands “to touch, rub and/or feel the top” of her breasts.

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You'd think you'd be safe from sexual harassment as a woman working for women focused on promoting women's empowerment (actually, the group pretty much just promotes pricey "Women of the Year" plaques and sounds like a huge scam, but still). Think again!

Same-sex harassment cases are rare, “but are on the rise,” said Gary Phelan, an employment lawyer at the Connecticut law firm Cohen & Wolf. Sex harassment does not have to be motivated by sexual desire to violate the law, Mr. Phelan said. “It illustrates the basic premise that sex harassment is about power, not sex.”

The plaintiffs also say their pay was docked illegally.

[New York Times]

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DISCUSSION

“It illustrates the basic premise that sex harassment is about power, not sex.”

Holy crap, YES!

ETA- Now that I got my gut reaction off my chest, let me also say I'm so glad someone is putting this out there. I hate how often you hear people say that sexual harassment is the natural result of a woman being attractive, and that she should consider it a compliment (or alternatively, that 'unattractive' women should be grateful for the attention). It has nothing to do with attraction. It has everything to do with grinding someone down beneath you using the easiest tool at your disposal.