Nightly News | November 02, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: This, of course, is just the latest entry in a long list of similar situations, stories that have made headlines and come and gone over the years and a lot of people are wondering, not only what really happened here, but where the line is, where the rules of the workplace are concerned. That angle of this story tonight from NBC 's Andrea Mitchell .
ANDREA MITCHELL reporting: A modest change since the 1960s when men were men and women did their bidding. Harassment in the workplace when it happens, goes well beyond nine to five, and often is not reported.
Ms. MARCIA GREENBERGER (National Women's Law Center): The number of complaints is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how much harassment that really is out there.
MITCHELL: One trend, more men are now filing complaints. In fact, since 1997 , the percentage of men filing complaints has gone from 11 percent of all claims to more than 16.4 percent last year. The biggest catalyst for change, the high stakes drama 20 years ago between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill .
Ms. ANITA HILL: On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess.
Judge CLARENCE THOMAS: It is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.
Ms. HILL: I have heard from a number of women who say after that testimony things changed in my workplace overnight. But I also know that the problem still exists.
MITCHELL: Since the Clarence Thomas hearings, legal rulings have gotten employers' attention. Workers are often now required to learn how to recognize when they are crossing the line.
Unidentified Woman #1: It is important for you to understand sexual harassment.
MITCHELL: A more recent high-profile case, New York Knicks coach and general manager Isiah Thomas , cited for making unwanted advances to team executive Anucha Browne Sanders . Madison Square Garden and a supervisor were ordered to pay her a total of $11 1/2 million. Thomas didn't have to pay but he was fired a year later for bad coaching after another losing season.
Ms. MARY FRANCES BERRY (Former EEOC Commissioner): More people are aware of what is appropriate behavior in the workplace and what is inappropriate.
Unidentified Woman #2: I think it's more controlled now. I think people are more aware of what not to do in the office.
MITCHELL: Still, change comes slowly as officials say most people are still afraid to file suit for fear they'll be fired. Andrea Mitchell , NBC News, Washington.