Power is at the Center of Sexual Harassment Cases, Legal Expert Says

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Sexual harassment allegations dating back more than a decade are beginning to surface in Hollywood, as Harvey Weinstein has been fired from his own movie company following numerous accusations of misconduct.

Des Moines employment law attorney Michael Carroll says, “Ambitious women that didn't come forward for a long time, there’s a reason for that. It has to do with the stigma. It has do do with 'how will I be seen?'"

That stigma, experts say, is a part of the problem. According to an Equal Opportunity Task Force study, 60% of those in the workplace say they have been sexually harassed, but three out of four of these individuals will never report it to their boss.

In Hollywood, it appears this is no different. Carroll says the Weinstein case and a recent case involving a former employee of the Iowa Statehouse have one thing in common.

“These cases are often way more about power than about sex. Oftentimes it's about power.”

Carroll defended Kirsten Anderson, a former communications director for the Senate Republican caucus. Last month, Anderson was awarded a $1.75 million settlement after successfully suing the state for wrong termination and sexual harassment.

It took Anderson’s case four years before it headed to trial. For similar cases, legal experts say they take time and courage for victims to stand up to those in power.

“I also hope that people get the message that it's just not okay. We're not going to change the world if people aren't willing to come forward and identify bad behavior, illegal behavior.”