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“Anita” puts the issue of sexual harassment into the spotlight

This year, “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power,” a documentary about the life of Anita Hill, will be showing in theaters around the country.  In October 1991, Hill famously testified before Congress about how Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her while she worked for him at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Hill testified, in graphic detail, that Thomas often spoke of his sexual prowess, discussed pornographic films that he watched, and pressured her to have sex with him.  Despite Hill’s testimony, the U.S. Senate confirmed Thomas as a Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many decried the decision of the Senate to confirm Thomas.  One criticism of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducted the confirmation hearings, was that it refused to call other witnesses who it knew would have testified that Thomas sexually harassed them, too.  Hill continues to think that was a mistake because it “cast this as a ‘he said, she said’ situation, even though these women had been subpoenaed and sat waiting for three days to testify.”  “That was a clear disservice to the process and to the American public,” said Hill. 

In another recent interview, Hill commented on current sexual harassment problems in the workplace.  She said “I think people are well aware that they have a right to come forward.  But many people have a fear that the processes will not give them a fair hearing.  Even for those who complain, I think we’ve fallen down in terms of the investigative process.  We still have a lot of challenges in terms of making sure that the people who are found guilty of harassment suffer the consequences of their behavior.”

The Maine Employee Rights Group (MERG) has fought and continues to fight for women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.  Whether they are white collar or blue collar workers, women too often have to navigate a gauntlet of sexual abuse just to earn a living.  MERG has handled sexual harassment cases against many different types of employers, such as car dealerships, construction companies, and restaurants.  We have helped numerous women obtain just compensation for the harms they suffered because of their employers’ failure to protect them from sexual harassment.  If you have experienced sexual harassment, contact MERG to learn more about your rights and how we might be able to help you.