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From Executive to Laborer: No Woman is Immune from Sexual Harassment.

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Manhattan, NYAnucha Browne Sanders, a former New York Knicks executive, [filed a lawsuit] in federal court January 24, 2006.

She accuses Isiah Thomas, the team's president, of sexual harassment and discrimination, saying he had made unwanted advances, cursed her and barred players from working with her on community events. In the lawsuit, Browne Sanders says that Thomas refused to stop harassing her and that Steve Mills, her supervisor and president of Madison Square Garden Sports, was aware of Thomas's actions and did nothing to help Browne Sanders.

Last November Browne Sanders retained a legal team and the Garden investigated her claims, at the same time refusing her work for three weeks. The outcome? Last Thursday, Browne Sanders, 43, was terminated from her job after an in-house investigation by the Garden found her complaint to be "unsupported."

Because of that, the lawsuit alleges that by firing Browne Sanders, "Madison Square Garden flouted the antidiscrimination laws to a degree rarely seen in the contemporary workplace."

Browne Sanders was told by a Garden lawyer that she was fired because she wasn't doing a good enough job and didn't work well with senior management. She counters that her work evaluations were strong and there is no evidence of poor performance on her part.

East Palestine, Ohio: Andrea Davis, age 28, is a single Mom with two kids. She was sexually harassed at work - ER Advanced Ceramics - and it was a double-edged sword because she too was punished for it.

"I had to go into a supervisor's office and Greg (not his real name) stood up, grabbed me by the face and neck and tried to kiss me," she says. For being sexually assaulted, Davis was demoted. "I was the lead person in my department and I was demoted to laborer."

She filed a report and the company followed up with a three day investigation. The investigator was hired through the company's law firm(!) and the result was that "I was found to be inappropriate - telling me that I dressed incorrectly and that I acted inappropriately. There has never been a dress code in the company and I have never received a warning of even a comment about any past behaviour."

The supervisor was reprimanded: he was given three days off work and came back at full pay in the same supervisory position. The company gave Davis a 10-foot restraining order against him. Forty-two people are employed at the ceramics company. Only one other female stood up for Davis and she was "constructively" discharged by the company and the union. But she went to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the agency was instrumental in getting her job back.

Davis has not yet retained a laywer. "I contacted the NLRB and they said that they wouldn't help me because it was my union's choice not to represent me." She then went to her union (Glass Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union, local 241). The union president told her that they didn't have the money to help her. "I was current in my dues, paid in full, and never missed a payment," says Davis. Sixty days after she was hired, Davis joined the union and has worked at the company just over a year. She is still going to work every day.

"It's not so uncomfortable now, in the past few weeks it has been tolerable. But in the past, one employee said (in reference to the woman who was fired) 'Mark my words, that whore is next,' meaning me." Davis has recorded the dates of every incident. "An older woman said she was going to punch me in the face for turning Greg in. I have had every name hurled at me that you can think of," she says. "Another union employee, with a supervisor present, thought it necessary to confront me and say that I was a backstabber and a liar and wanted nothing to do with me."

Davis has been prescribed medication for stress-induced mood disorder and anxiety. She is smoking heavily. "I can only put up with work because of my medication - it numbs me. My doctor says my stress and anxiety it is all work-related. "Before I was stabilized by these drugs, my kids (ages six and eight) saw me cry, stuff that a mother doesn't want her kids to see."

Currently, only one woman is on her side; the woman who was fired and reinstated. Davis is still waiting for a response from the Civil Rights Commission.

These two women, Anucha Browne Sanders and Andrea Davis, probably have nothing in common except that they have both been sexually harassed and then punished for it. And now they need to be compensated. How can these incidents happen in this day and age? Clearly, they send humankind back to the Dark Ages and it's time to take action.



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