PICKET: Cain responds to nameless sexual harassment accusers from his past

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Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is on the defensive after the Politico reported Sunday that at least two female employees who worked at the of the National Restaurant Association, when Mr. Cain headed the trade organization in the 1990’s, accused the former God Father’s Pizza CEO of “inappropriate behavior” towards them, which led to the women exiting the organization. According to Politico:  (bolding is mine)

The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.

In a series of comments over the past 10 days, Cain and his campaign repeatedly declined to respond directly about whether he ever faced allegations of sexual harassment at the restaurant association. They have also declined to address questions about specific reporting confirming that there were financial settlements in two cases in which women leveled complaints.

POLITICO has confirmed the identities of the two female restaurant association employees who complained about Cain but, for privacy concerns, is not publishing their names.

Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon told POLITICO the candidate indicated to campaign officials that he was “vaguely familiar” with the charges and that the restaurant association’s general counsel had resolved the matter.

“I have never sexually harassed anyone, let’s say that. Secondly, I’ve never sexually harassed anyone, and yes, I was falsely accused while I was at the National Restaurant Association, and I say falsely, because it turned out, after the investigation, to be baseless,” Mr. Cain told Fox News on Monday.  “The people mentioned in that article were the ones who would be aware of any misdoings, and they have attested to my integrity and my character. It is totally baseless, and totally false, never have I committed any sort of sexual harassment.” 

The identities of the women have yet to surface and the facts surrounding the accusations against Mr. Cain have not been disclosed at this point either.  With that in mind here are some issues to consider:

The reported accusations took place during the 1990’s, an era when Anita Hill became popular among left-wing feminists, when she testified on Capitol Hill during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, that the future Supreme Court Justice sexually harassed her by making inappropriate remarks to her. Thomas, appalled by the accusations from Hill, testified that such instances never happened between Hill and himself and called the confirmation hearing “a high tech lynching.” 

Though Thomas was able to make it to the highest court, the debate in the nation exploded over what exactly constituted sexual harassment in a work environment.

According to ReferenceforBusiness.com: (bolding is mine)

The confusing array of rules about sexual harassment—as well as the threat of expensive litigation—was having a negative effect on the culture of some companies by the late 1990s. Some employers created repressive working environments in which employees were reluctant to tell jokes or pat each other on the back, let alone enter into romantic relationships, for fear of violating company policies about sexual harassment.

The article goes further into the issue regarding sexual harassment policies that could go “too far:”

Some experts have claimed that it is possible to take company policies about sexual harassment too far. After all, only 4 percent of companies have experienced sexual harassment lawsuits over the past five years, according to a 1998 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. It is important to weigh the risk of lawsuits against the negative effect of excessively strict or invasive policies that may make it difficult to attract and retain qualified employees. 

Of course, once again, without context and the identities of the individuals who accused Cain of making sexually suggestive remarks, it is impossible to know what happened and if Cain’s accusers continue to remain nameless, their credibility will continued to be questioned.

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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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