San Diego, California, Mayor Bob Filner has responded to accusations of sexual harassment by current and former staff members by apologizing and acknowledging that he needs to change. In a video statement, the mayor said that he has failed to respect the women who work in his office, and admitted that he at times intimidated them.
Several longtime supporters of Mayor Filner are calling on him to resign. The most vocal is a former member of the San Diego City Council who herself worked in the mayor’s office. She says that three women reported Mayor Filner’s inappropriate behavior to her, and that she believes them. The mayor, however, has given no indication that he plans to resign, and he has not been charged with any crime.
Although the mayor has acknowledged wrongdoing, none of the women who have reported his harassment to others have gone public with their allegations or filed a lawsuit. No specific allegations have been made public. One of the people speaking out said that he felt obligated to do so based on the information he has, but that it is up to the women to come forward with the details.
The mayor, whose fianc?e has reportedly called off their engagement, said he thinks it is good that inappropriate behavior is no longer tolerated in the workplace. He said that he needs help, and that he and his staff will undergo sexual harassment training. He also said he plans to personally apologize to current and former employees for his actions.
As with just about everything in politics, this situation has a partisan element. Republicans have claimed that the Democratic mayor’s inappropriate behavior has been well known for years, and that Democrats have overlooked it. The councilwoman who is speaking out and calling for him to step down, however, is a Democrat.
Sexual harassment charges are never easy to bring. Employees often fear for their job. When the person being accused is a powerful figure, as in this case, it is even more difficult. However, it is essential that anyone who has been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace take action to stop the behavior and prevent anyone else from being harassed. Attorneys who specialize in employment law can help ensure that.
CNN.com, “San Diego mayor admits he needs ‘help’ amid sexual harassment allegations” Greg Botelho, Jul. 12, 2013