New Office Dress Code: “Mini-Skirt Monday” to be Followed by “Tube-Top Tuesday”?

Misogyny in action.

From the National Women’s Law Center:

August 9, 2011

No, this isn’t an upcoming plotline in Mad Men, or any other piece of historical fiction in which overt sexual harassment appears in a neat package of dated pastimes including office-hours drinking and smoking in public spaces.

Unfortunately, it’s closer to reality TV. In fact, the suggestion of this sexually explicit daily dress code is one of many allegations made this year by a female former office manager in Pleasant Grove, Utah, who says her employer repeatedly sexually harassed her and threatened her job if she reported him.

The rest of the suggested weekly dress code included “Wet T-Shirt Wednesday,” “No bra Thursday” and “Bikini top Friday.” In other alleged incidents, the employer offered to “give her a mammogram for free,” asked her whether she shaved her pubic area, and repeatedly discussed her breast size in front of other employees.

After three and half years of such abuse, the female employee finally reported the harassment, after which she was immediately fired.

Seriously? You might be wondering how this employer got away with such outrageous conduct, or why the employee waited so long to say anything. It’s simple: as a single mother of three, she couldn’t afford to lose her job and feed her children, a fact that she says her employer knew and used against her. Unfortunately, this is not a unique pattern.

For anyone who has come to think of sexual harassment as a historical phenomenon with little relevance to the modern workplace, this case should highlight the continuing and devastating effects of sexual harassment for working women. We may have made progress since the days depicted in Mad Men, but the issue of sexual harassment is not wrapping up in time for a season finale.

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