DES MOINES, Iowa — Professionals dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace say there is no gray area.
“Unwelcome behavior and that is defined by the person who is receiving the attention. They get to determine if it is welcome or unwelcome,” said Melynda DeCarlo, co-founder of the Meyvn group, a leadership development firm specializing in human resources consulting and business development in West Des Moines.
Unwelcome advances have put lawmakers on notice after alleged sexual misconduct and harassment claims, but as Democratic Senator Al Franken declared in his resignation, he made an allegation of his own.
“I am leaving while a man who has been accused of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who’s preyed on girls, campaigns for the Senate with full support of his party.”
DeCarlo says Sen. Franken’s attempt to deflect blame towards others also accused is something she has seen often in her 20 years of experience dealing with sexual harassment cases in the workplace. She said, “It reminds me a little bit of what we tell our children. I don’t care what they are doing, I`m talking about you right now. This is a conversation we often have with employees within an organization.”
While Franken and Representative John Conyers’ recent resignations received bi-partisan support, Franken’s claim of Alabama’s Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore receiving full GOP support to remain in the race may not be entirely true if you ask either Senator from Iowa.
Senator Chuck Grassley said, “I’ve said before that Roy Moore should step aside and I continue to believe that. Since that appears unlikely, it’s now up to the people of Alabama to decide who will represent them.”
Senator Joni Ernst added “I have said that if the allegations against Roy Moore are true, then he should step aside. It’s critical that congress take a closer look at how it addresses sexual harassment and other allegations of discrimination, to make sure that those who have engaged in misconduct are held accountable.”
DeCarlo says the key there — and everywhere — is accountability.
“I think the real problem is not that we don’t have the policies to say what is acceptable and what is not, I think the real problem is we are not holding people accountable to those policies.”