My short bio: I'm Helena Oliviero, a features reporter with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 2002. I cover lifestyle and human interest stories. For this AMA, I'll be joined by Atlanta employment lawyer Amanda Farahany ( to answer questions about sexual harassment in the work place. We'll start answering questions around 4:30 p.m. today!

My Proof: Here's a link to my writings for more

******UPDATE***** Here is the Facebook live answering some of the great questions you folks asked: Expect a full story this weekend.

Comments: 77 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

JustReadingAndVoting47 karma

How do you feel about reporting the identity of the offenders?

Isn't this conflicting with the idea of 'innocent until proven otherwise'?

ATLreporter3 karma

Helena here: The public has a right to know about police reports and when suspects are charged with a crime. Everyone charged with a crime has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty in a public trial. These are matters of public safety and that it is not kept private by law enforcement for a reason. Disclosing information at the accusation stage is vital to potential witnesses or potential victims. Keep in mind that we also report on the court process, by which a defendant has a right to a defense, in both criminal court and civil court. Our obligation to pursue the truth means we will tell both sides of the story as information is made available to us.

ShutUpWesl3y28 karma

I’ll ask again seeing as the mods decided to delete it the first time. I’m being sexually harassed at work. I’m male. person doing it is an HR person (female). What should I do?

PippiL656 karma

u/ShutUpWesl3y, as a previous manager, it’s really important to document as best you can first. Keep notes as you go along. Try to pin down approx times dates and locations and what the person actually said. If General Manager or other Company Manager offers no solution you contact your HR persons’ boss(could be a district entity-not sure of your corporate structure.) A lawyer won’t be able to help unless you have documentation. Good luck.

ATLreporter6 karma

Actually, a lawyer can help you, even if you have no documentation. Most of our clients don't have documentation, or remember exact times and dates.

tastelesseyeball8 karma

In my own personal experience and in my peers although the HR dept or supervisors are supposed to deal with harassment strictly, in most cases complaints get largely ignored or covered up. In the worst case the victim winds up the one to get the blow back for speaking up. What organizations are out there as a backup for victims in the workplace? What advice can you give to those in these tricky situations?

ATLreporter4 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. My advice is to talk with an attorney about how to navigate through your particular company. Unfortunately, not all HR people will handle the investigations appropriately and it is important to hold them accountable. There is also an organization, 9 to 5, that helps sexual harassment victims.

turnbone7 karma

I work for a grocery store, and one of my coworkers recently quit because she was constantly harassed by customers. The company basically just said that all She could do was remove herself from the situation. How can this possibly be true?

ATLreporter2 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. A company is responsible for ensuring that its employees are not harassed - both from other employees and also from customers. Your coworker should think about filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or talking with an attorney. She also can get unemployment - even if she quit - because she quit for a good reason under the law.

canesfan81936 karma

Have you covered many sexual harassment cases where the harassed was a male?

ATLreporter7 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. I have had a few cases where the harassed was male, but that has typically been male on male harassment. I have had a couple cases where a woman harassed a man, but it has been the rare circumstance

xmatcha5 karma

How does the media distinguish between sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape? It seems the term "sexual assault" is used to describe acts that, I thought, are considered rape. I'm suspicious that it's used to make some attacks seem less serious or less violent than they actually are.

ATLreporter2 karma

Helena here: I'm not aware of any set policy we may have as regards to that terminology. I basically follow law enforcement's cues on this -- if they refer to it as a rape, I'll do the same. But typically they use the umbrella term "sexual assault."

ATLreporter-1 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. Sexual harassment occurs in the workplace. Sexual assault is a crime, but it is when there is physical touching of a sexualized nature in the vaginal area or breast. Rape is the penetration of a female body with the penis.

midisaurus5 karma

Have a lot of questions because I've been fortunate enough to never have witnessed or experienced any sexual harassment in my work place, but I've always wanted to know, why does it take so long for people to report incidents? I want to believe the work place has systems in place to directly protect victims of sexual harassment but maybe it's much more broken than I imagine...

ATLreporter10 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. Reporting is usually very difficult for people, because at first, they believe they can make it stop themselves. Then, they fear for their job and being retaliated against for complaining. Finally, many people don't trust HR to handle the complaint appropriately, and fear that they will not be believed without something more than their word that it happened.

fangirlfortheages5 karma

Is sexual harassment a widespread problem in our society? Or is it just in a few industries? And what is the largest barriers to these crimes being reported and the perpetrators being prosecuted?

ATLreporter5 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. Sexual harassment is still a widespread problem in our society. Unfortunately, however, these are considered workplace problems, not crimes, and so they are not ever prosecuted. In the workplace, companies often cover up for the harassers because they are the ones that are high producers for the company.

pilgrimlost5 karma

With there often being little, if any, direct proof of harassment: how can punishment (termination, sanction, character assassination) be justified when there is a contradictory account by the accused?

ATLreporter3 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. This is why an independent investigation by a neutral third party is so important. There rarely is direct proof of harassment, but a thorough and impartial investigation will uncover what is really going on

apepi4 karma

What is the worst case you ever heard of? Where the workplace was complicit in it?

ATLreporter3 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. One of the worst cases I had was where my client was raped by her supervisor at work. The two had never had any substantive interactions before the rape. But the harasser had been fired from multiple jobs for harassment, including a coerced sexual relationship in the most previous job. The company's executives who had started the company worked with this harasser at a prior job, and were actually aware that he had been fired for harassing two women there, but hired him anyway

theycallmemintie4 karma

This question is for Amanda. What has been your most interesting case?

ATLreporter4 karma

This is Amanda. Great question - but I have to say my most interesting cases are not fit for publication online! Suffice it to say that despite doing this for almost twenty years, I am still shocked by some of the horrendous ways people are being harassed in the workplace

Ibelieve9193 karma

Greetings Helena and Amanda,

Since many of the women felt that how they handled their sexual assault/harassment incidences, both as they were unfolding and after they had happened, would influence their employment status, how do y’all think the future of who is getting hired will shift? Will it shift?

ATLreporter2 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. A company is not allowed to retaliate against anyone who comes forward exercising their civil rights and opposing harassment - both from inside the company and future employers.

EnazS3 karma

Do you feel people not directly involved in the #metoo movement are just reposting it just to be part of something? How do you verify legitimacy of harassment cases?

ATLreporter4 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. Harassment cases are verified in lots of different ways, starting from looking at the history of the harasser to looking at the credibility of the victim. Often times, there are indications that someone is telling the truth, such as the victim telling her friends about what's happening as it was happening.

antique_land3 karma

What your favorite part of the job?

ATLreporter3 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. Thanks for the question antique_land. My favorite part of representing sexual harassment victims is giving them a voice by equalizing the power that has been used against them, and holding the company accountable for allowing the harassment to occur. I have the seen the changes in my clients from the start of a case to the end of the case when they have been vindicated, and it is extraordinarily moving to me every time.

ATLreporter1 karma

Helena here: for me, my favorite part of my job is meeting people and learning about my community. My favorite stories to write are human interest stories, stories about inspiring people in our community. For example this one:

lazy_rage3 karma

1) How tough does it get to prove the allegations? Are there any ways for victims to prove the harassment, if it is not recorded?

2) Apart from the Movie industry, what are the other industries where Sexual Harassment is prevalent?

3) Does Movie industry/corporations generally have special wings in HR department which deals with harassment or other such grievances? Is there any mandate on that?

ATLreporter3 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. Many people fear coming forward to report harassment because they don't have "proof" or "evidence", but what most people don't realize is that their word is proof and evidence of what happened. A proper investigation by the company will include making credibility determinations about what really occurred. In addition, as we have seen with Harvey Weinstein, harassment is pattern behavior. Even Weinstein started out seeing what he could get away with, and as he was able to get away with it over and over, his behavior became even more outrageous. Looking in to someone's history who harasses will often reveal other victims.

thinking-buck2 karma

What is appropriate workplace flirtation? In all the talk about combating sexual harassment I rarely hear anyone modeling appropriate sexual behavior.

ATLreporter3 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. Just like a lawyer, I'm going to tell you - it depends. If there aren't issues of power dynamics, and the flirtation is welcome, then it's appropriate. On the other hand, if there are power dynamics - then it's going to be a problem if the conduct is unwelcome.

funk_truck2 karma

Do you think that using sex appeal to accomplish things in the work place should be part of the sexual harassment conversation?

When I was a young legislative staffer, older female lobbyists often flirted with me in order to gain access to my boss. Looking back it seems harmless, but it definitely felt uncomfortable and manipulative at the time.

ATLreporter4 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. Absolutely funk_truck. That type of behavior is also inappropriate.

PompeyJon821 karma

Do you honestly believe you can get some convictions as this could be hard to prove?

Note: I hope you do as I hate this BS but I know how hard it is to get convictions too.

ATLreporter1 karma

This is Amanda Farahany. Convictions would be very difficult, as that requires proving a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. But in a civil case, the burden of proof is whether a jury believes that it is more likely than not true - just over 50%. So if a jury says "this probably happened" - then a jury is required to return a verdict for the plaintiff/victim.

itsyoboyy1 karma

Hi Helena! Can males be victims of sexual harassment? If so, what is the percentage of men being sexually harassed in the work place? What is the percentage of women being sexually harassed in the work place? Thanks!

ATLreporter2 karma

Helena here: Yes! men can be victims of sexual harassment. While the vast majority of sexual harassment cases filed with the EEOC are filed by women, an increasing number of men are filing their own claims. In 2015, 6,822 sexual harassment claims were filed with the EEOC. 17.1 percent of those cases were filed by men.