Number of people seeking legal advice locally for sexual harassment spikes since national headlines

Posted at 5:05 AM, Nov 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-30 07:18:20-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Claims of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior are making national headlines at a rapid pace - most recently, NBC's Today Show anchor Matt Lauer and Minnesota Public host Garrison Keillor.

The Sass Law firm is busy lately answering more phone calls than usual.

"I think it’s because they actually feel like they’re going to be listen to more," said Cynthia Sass. She says folks on the other end are asking about their legal rights, when it comes to sexual harassment, "Their first question is what should I do about it and how is it going to impact me if I do complain?"


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Those headlines - giving folks the courage to speak up - Sass believes it could be the start to a local movement.

"I think that we’ve seen companies more open to taking action immediately and listening more to the victim and being concerned that they may end up in the press if they don’t do the right thing," she said.

A recent study shows 71% of companies offer sexual harassment training, but only 5 states actually require it for private and public employees. Florida is not one of them.

Desiree Southall says it's not something her company is openly talking about since headlines started emerging.

"In my place of business if someone spoke up I think they would handle it," she said. "But, it’s not something that’s being brought up in general, like nobody had a meeting and said hey let’s go over these procedures or let’s talk about our policies and code of conduct."

Something she'd like to see more of.

We reached out to a handful of big businesses in the Tampa Bay area to see if changes are being made within their companies - we're waiting to hear back.

Home Depot did respond saying:

"We have a strict no tolerance policy that’s part of our code of conduct. We also conduct continuous training, which all associates receive every year."

Sass says if you are a victim of sexual harassment, you should check with your companies policy and handbook and report it right away. She says businesses need to do their part in investigating the claim thoroughly to cut down on false claims, and take swift action if they find evidence of the sexual harassment.

If you are fired for reporting sexual harassment, she says that is against the law and should seek legal help.