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Sexual Harassment Allegations Never Fade Away For The Wealthy And Famous

Casey Affleck received a great deal of media attention for his role in Manchester by the Sea, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. However, along with his rising fame has come a renewed interest in sexual harassment charges made against him years ago.

In 2010, the female producer and female cinematographer with whom Affleck worked as a director each sued him for repeated sexual harassment. The producer's lawsuit alleged that the actor made a cameraman expose himself to her and had sex with a woman in the producer's hotel room. The cinematographer alleged that he talked with other crew members about engaging in sexual acts with her and got into bed with her one night.

Affleck denied the allegations and settled both cases for an undisclosed amount. "Harassment claims cloud Casey Affleck's rise," chinapost.com (Jan. 8, 2017).


Commentary and Checklist

For wealthy and/or famous employers, charges of sexual harassment never completely go away. Allegations made during a lawsuit settled years ago can resurface anytime the employer’s name is mentioned in the news.

Casey Affleck is a case in point. His stellar performance in one of the year’s top films gained him media attention, which then led to articles resurfacing about sexual harassment charges made against him seven years ago.

The best way to protect your reputation is to avoid being charged with sexual harassment in the first place.

Although intentionally false allegations of sexual harassment are made, including against wealthy family employers, lawsuits are generally based, at least in part, on testimony regarding a family employer’s or member’s words or conduct. It is not uncommon in litigation to construe words and conduct in ways that differ from their intended meaning.

Therefore, family employers must make sure to always conduct themselves in a professional manner and require managers to do the same when interacting with staff. 

Family employers should follow these tips to avoid committing or allowing sexual harassment against staff:

  • Lead by example and don't make crude remarks or jokes.
  • Always conduct yourself with respect for others.
  • Don't wear sexually provocative or crude clothing or jewelry.
  • If you are wondering whether your or someone else's behavior or comments are acceptable, then they probably are not. Think before you speak, and if it may be inappropriate, don't say it.
  • Limit your physical contact with staff, especially touches that are more personal than professional.
  • Do your best to keep your social life out of the workplace.
  • If you spot someone being disrespectful or using foul language, admonish him or her quickly and in private.
  • Listen to how staff talk about other staff and managers. Crude behavior is often done in private.
  • When you observe sexually harassing conduct or staff complains of inappropriate behavior, immediately conduct a third party investigation.
  • Never retaliate against staff for reporting harassing behavior or other forms of misconduct.
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