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Sexual harassment is not just a workplace problem

If you are a familiar with the TV show "Mad Men," you might be of the view that we have come a long way when it comes to respect for women in the workplace. That series, set in the 1960s, provided what many consider an accurate reflection of the poor treatment women endured from the male-dominated corporate ladder.

Conditions might be significantly better than they used to be, but no one would argue there isn't room for more improvement. Protecting the rights of individuals against sometimes persistent, unwanted behavior is still necessary in California and elsewhere. Even with the many laws on the books, harassment and worse occurs. Fear keeps some victims from coming forward.

All you have to do is look at the headlines to know how big an issue this continues to be. According to a recent report from the University of California system, there were some 113 such cases identified for the period running from January 2013 to April 6, 2016.

The instances recorded were from across the 10-campus system. Nearly half of them occurred on campuses in Southern California. Some involved employee-to-employee harassment. Some involved educators and students. One accusation came from a child patient at one facility.

While informative, critics note the report covers only closed cases, and is limited to those involving employees. Student-on-student claims of harassment and open cases aren't included. The university system is in the process of stepping up efforts to prevent harassment, but critics question whether it will be enough.

Meanwhile, harassment continues. Victims don't have to deal with the pain alone, however. Even if harassment is merely suspected, consult an attorney to learn your rights and your options.

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