When Title VII passed in 1964, it banned gender discrimination at work. However, it wasn’t until 1975 that activists at Cornell University coined the phrase, “sexual harassment.” And still, it wasn’t until around the early 1990s, when law professor Anita Hill accused Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her when they worked together. That didn’t stop Thomas’ nomination from being confirmed, but that same year, the Civil Rights Act was amended to allow victims in those cases to seek both compensatory and punitive damages. The number of sexual harassment cases skyrocketed.
Twenty-six years later, allegations of sexual harassment brought down one of the most powerful men in cable news – Bill O’Reilly. Of course, it took years and numerous allegations from many women.
But even before then, in late 2016, Anita Hill spoke out to CBS News, in response to the infamous Access Hollywood Trump tape, Hill said women have been saying for decades that sexual harassment is real and it is a problem. The revelation didn’t stop Trump from being elected. However, the incident did spur a national discussion. Then there was Roger Ailes, the former Fox chairman who was ousted amid numerous allegations of sexual harassment from high-profile female anchors and staffers. When the latest allegation arose against Bill O’Reilly, advocates say it brought sexual harassment “to the tipping point of public attention.” Continue reading