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2018 was a year of fighting back against workplace sexual harassment

Like every year that preceded it, 2018 has been a tumultuous one. We don't yet know how history will judge it, but 2018 might well be remembered as 365 days of political outrage and turmoil. It might also be remembered as the year in which the MeToo movement emerged as a force for positive change, enabling people to more effectively report and stop sexual harassment in the workplace.

Milwaukee's flagship National Public Radio station, WUWM, recently aired a report on the movement's impact over the past year, talking to survivors and victims and what MeToo has meant to them.

NPR interviewed a trio of women who helped bring workplace sexual misconduct out of the shadows and into the spotlight, including Forest Service Battalion Chief Abby Bolt, who was sexually assaulted while working by another firefighter. When Bolt reported the assault, she was subjected to retaliation; apparently not an unusual reprisal in a federal agency with a history of sexual harassment and assaults.

Bolt has been a federal employee for nearly 22 years and she told NPR that she's dealt with discrimination, harassment and retaliation throughout that time. She said that since her story became known, she has heard from people across the nation who have been "terrified to speak out" against improper workplace behavior. But the MeToo movement has empowered those victims and survivors, Bolt said. "I'm amazed at how many now are coming forward, and at least feeling strong enough to stick up for themselves."

Victims aren't the only ones speaking up, she said. "Bystanders are standing up for other people. And I feel like, the more -- more strength for that is coming out. And that's just -- it takes my breath away."

She said she has heard from women working in different areas of the federal government who have been reluctant in the past to speak up and stand up to stop sexual harassment - especially in male-dominated workplaces. But MeToo has sparked in them a willingness to report prohibited behavior - the first step in bringing it to a halt.

If you are ready to fight back against workplace sexual harassment, gender discrimination and unlawful retaliation, contact the Milwaukee employment law attorneys of Alan C. Olson & Associates, s.c.

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