Herman Cain, the former Head of the National Restaurant Association and current GOP Presidential hopeful, once sexually harassed two female employees, according to game-changing allegations published in a October 31st article on the website, Politico.
Here is the latest on this politically explosive story.
According to the Politico article, the two women “complained that sexually suggestive behavior by Cain made them angry and uncomfortable… they [ultimately] signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.”
The Politico reporters pieced together what happened, based on stories from various sources. Politico claims that “both women received separation packages that were in the five figure range.” Problematic incidents included: “conversations allegedly filled with innuendo… and personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices.”
Cain’s Camp’s Reaction
After interviewing on “Face the Nation” on Sunday the October 30th, Cain was peppered with questions about the allegations of sexual harassment. At first, Cain refused to directly comment on the Politico story, even after a reporter asked him point blank: “have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment?”
Here is Cain’s response, again per the Politico story, “he [Cain] breathed audibly, glared at the reporter and stayed silent for several seconds. After the question was repeated three times, he responded by asking the reporter, “have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?””
Days after the story broke, Cain continues to strike a defiant stance. In an interview with conservative commentator Sean Hannity, according to a CNN report, Cain said: “The American people are starting to see through this stuff, and they are sick of gutter politics… this will not deter me.”
While Cain’s response superficially sounds defensive — like something a grader schooler might say when caught red-handed — without a full review of the facts, one cannot fairly condemn (or exonerate) Cain. Even if the harassment story turns out to have “legs,” the story seems relatively benign, at least when you compare it with other political scandals that have grabbed headlines of late – scandals such as John Edward’s alleged misappropriation of campaign funds to pay for his secret mistress, which he apparently did all while his wife was stricken with fatal cancer. Yet, Cain’s relatively benign issue could conceivably alter his potential rise to US presidency.
Lessons We Can Learn?
We don’t yet know the facts in the Cain matter, but the possibilities of what may have occurred and are occurring can still teach lessons.
1. Is it better to avoid issues that come to light that you thought were buried forever, own up to them (again) or at least acknowledge them and say that details are sealed by mutual agreement?
2. Even if someone settles with a plaintiff, including a gag order, the facts may anyway come out sufficiently to continue punishment. Exercising self-control is always the best defense. If you lose your temper or bearing and utter words that can be construed to be harassment, you may face long term, dynamic problems. In addition to possibly breaking the law and hurting another person, you never know where, when and what it will cost you down the road.
Sexual harassment cases – and cases of employment discrimination, wage and hour violations, retaliation, etc – can dog both perpetrators and victims for years after the fact. The best way for a victim to find peace, justice, compensation and a better and safer work environment is to connect with experienced,professional, legal resources which will fight to have things resolved in your best interest.
The team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum can help you understand your rights and explore mechanisms for getting compensation and for coming to closure about what happened. Learn more at www.jhllp.com, or call the team now for a free case evaluation at (212) 688-5640.