The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Washington, D.C. Harassment Case:
Little Has Changed

Oct 30, 2017

Some brave women have shone the spotlight on sexual harassment in the workplace by speaking out about how a big movie producer, Harvey Weinstein, assaulted them. These women may be rich and famous, but sexual harassment happens on any job.

More than 30 years ago, a bank teller, not an actress, filed a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Michelle Vinson had been fired from her job at Capital City Federal Savings Bank in Washington, D.C. In the lawsuit, she said that during the four years she had worked at the bank, the branch manager, Sidney Taylor, repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Taylor threatened to fire her if she refused his demands.

In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that sexual harassment violated federal laws against discrimination and that companies could be held liable for sexual harassment committed by supervisors–even if the company was unaware of the harassment.

That ruling has certainly not stopped or even slowed sexual harassment and assault. It has not changed the fact that the justice system more often attacks the victims of sexual assault than it does their victimizers.

Women who are harassed or assaulted can only count on themselves and others who support them to stop this disgusting state of affairs.