Professor: Indiana should review sexual harassment statute

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INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana University law professor says it’s time for Indiana to change a state statute that keeps sexual harassment victims from having their day in court, including a provision that requires an employer to give their consent before being sued.

The 56-year-old statute also prevents employees of very small businesses from suing their employers at all, The Indianapolis Star reported .

“If a company doesn’t have at least six employees, we can’t do anything about a case,” said attorney John Haskin. “It’s unfortunate for those people.”

Business groups contend that such stipulations in the state’s sex discrimination law are intended to protect startup companies from lawsuits that could easily destroy a small business.

But Haskin said that needs to be “some kind of remedy” when unlawful acts happen in the workplace.

“No one should be immune from responsibility,” he said.

Jennifer Drobac teaches sex harassment law at IU’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law. She said Indiana is currently failing to properly investigate and remediate sexual harassment claims. Unless the law is changed, she says “this bad behavior will continue with no consequences.”

A spokeswoman for the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault said that with increased scrutiny on inappropriate sexual behavior in American workplaces organizations are seeing an increase in companies seeking training on sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Drobac said she is hopeful that workplace culture will change when there is less tolerance and less secrecy regarding sexual harassment.

“We have become numb to this type of predation.” Drobac said. “And we blame it on the women.”