Wausau experts weigh-in on sexual harassment allegations - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wausau experts weigh-in on sexual harassment allegations


In the wake of the recent allegations from Capital Hill to Hollywood about sexual misconduct from celebrities and politicians, local experts are giving advice about how to handle sexual harassment at work. 

Jane Graham Jennings, executive director of The Women's Community in Wausau, said with more women coming forward, it does not mean sexual harassment in the workplace is a new phenomenon. 

"Most of the reports of what's happening have been happening for decades. If you look as some of the cases that have been brought to the public, we're looking at things that happened 10, 15 years ago," she said. "One of the biggest reasons why victims of harassment [and] assault don't report is because they're not believed." 

She's advising anyone who believes they are being subject to an uncomfortable environment at work to talk to a supervisor immediately. 

"[I] always recommend that people look at their sexual harassment policies in their workplace," she said. 

But Capt. Matthew Barnes with the Wausau Police Department said, once a line is crossed, someone can be charged with sexual assault. 

"Lowest end of the spectrum of sexual assault would be 4th degree sexual assault. And that's touching, without permission, of another person's private areas," Barnes said. "Someone touching a woman's breast or their backside would be a violation of that law [and] it's absolutely a time to contact law enforcement." 

Barnes said supervisors who fail to report a sexual assault could be subject to hefty fines. 

The Women's Community said for those who don't feel comfortable reporting a complaint to your job, the Department of Workforce Development, Department of Labor, and Equal Opportunity Employment can also file complaints.

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