The revelations about Mayor Michael Hancock’s self-described “inappropriate” texts have deeply disturbed me, not only for their content, but for his woefully inadequate response.
As a professional woman, I found the context of his texts repugnant. Here you have a woman who has reached the rank of Denver Police Dept. detective, a city employee charged with keeping the mayor — and other citizens — safe, yet the mayor reduces her to an object. Is that the message we want to be sending to young women? No matter what you do, if you’re attractive, that’s what will elicit the direct comment of the man who is your superior?
What upsets me even more is Hancock’s justification that he merely “blurred lines” and that his behavior was “inappropriate.” No, Mr. Mayor, it was a lot more than that. And by trying to minimize your behavior, you are not only demeaning victims of sexual harassment, but you are empowering harassers.
Denver Career Service Authority, the HR body that governs city employees, follows the guidelines of the Code of Federal Regulations which defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advances, when: 1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; or 2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or 3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
The mayor should especially read Number 3. How can he deny the abundantly obvious? If he continues to do so, only he will be responsible for the implosion of his political career. Time’s up?
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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