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PRSA-NY Takes a Stand Against Workplace Harassment with Panel Discussion and Workshop

Thursday, December 14, 2017  
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PRSA-NY Takes a Stand Against Workplace Harassment with Panel Discussion
and Workshop Offering Tangible Solutions

By Helen Shelton

Time magazine’s decision to name the “silence breakers” of the #MeToo movement as the 2017 Person of the Year is front page news around the world. As the movement continues to gain momentum, a public reckoning is taking shape and liberating men and women to speak up and speak out. PRSA-NY is taking a strong stand on the issue of harassment of all kinds in the workplace, taking action to ensure that members and others in the industry are aware of the signs and have some solid takeaways to address and combat the issue. Headed by PRSA-NY President-Elect Sharon Fenster, the chapter’s recent workshop and panel discussion on sexual harassment was an organizational first – and certainly not the last, according to Fenster.

Participating in the discussion were: Gucciardo Law Firm’s Jon-Paul Gabriele, Esq.; Barbara Laidlaw, Managing Director, Burson-Marsteller; Morgan Rubin from the New York City Commission on Human Rights; and Jacqueline Strayer, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and President of the Sound Advisory Group. The panel offered real-time takeaways and solutions. These include:

  • The cases with the lowest success rate are usually when the victim has no hard evidence, armed with just their word against the predator. Lawyer Jon-Paul Gabriele advised that people should build a paper trail via emails, texts and keeping a diary of what was said, what was done and when the incident(s) occur.
     PRSA-NY President-elect Sharon Fenster moderating a panel discussion and workshop on sexual harassment in the workplace

  • New York State has some of the toughest laws and is one of the best, legally, when it comes to sexual harassment victims and their rights.
  • People can press charges against a company anonymously through the NYC Commission of Human Rights, here in the city or by contacting the New York State Attorney General’s office.

“Deciding to come forward as a sexual harassment victim is not an easy choice to make,” says Sharon Fenster. “Victims will sometimes change jobs rather than come forward to report the situation. PRSA-NY encourages people to come forward -  we want people to know that they are not alone, and that there are effective solutions for them to seek and obtain justice.”  

The panel discussed how sexual harassment is an issue and a problem that is uncomfortable for people, and because of this, the issue never comes to light. The panelists encouraged the workshop attendees not to sweep it under the rug, but to discuss the subject and not hide from it. At the program's conclusion, Fenster encouraged attendees to take appropriate action if confronted by sexual harassment, and in doing so, to be an agent of change!

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