Taylor Swift: sexual harassment testimony
DENVER, CO – It makes sense that Taylor Swift is now being hailed as a hero for her testimony this week in the trial involving radio DJ David Mueller who sexually harassed her in 2013. Swift’s bravery and persistence in this lawsuit is a reminder to the world that victim-blaming must end and harassers need to be put in their place.
In 2013, the radio DJ David Mueller groped her when Swift was 23 and Mueller was 51. While Swift posed for a photo with him, Mueller reached up under her skirt and to grab an “a handful of [her] ass,” and latched it there for an extended period of time. “This was not jostling,” Swift said. “He did not touch my rib. He did not touch my arm. … He grabbed my bare ass.”
Swift ended up in court because Mueller sued Swift in 2015, seeking $3 million in damages claiming that he did not touch her inappropriately and that he lost his job because of a false accusation. In response, Swift is now countersuing Mueller for just $1 million in damages for alleged assault and battery. Her lawsuit argued that the trial would “serve as an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”
When Mueller’s attorney attempted to blame Swift, she responded “I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel like this was my fault, because it isn’t… I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions. Not mine.”
August 11, 2017, Swift’s bodyguard, Greg Dent, testified and his eyewitness testimony bolsters Swift’s version of the events. Dent witnessed Mueller reach his hand under Swift’s skirt at the photo-op in what he called a “violation” of her body. “I know she wasn’t comfortable with it, that’s why she moved, pushed (her) skirt down and moved closer to the woman.”
Taylor Swift delivered what many outlets have called “brave” and “badass” responses to a set of questions seemingly designed to shame and discredit her. Having to repeat a painful event for an audience, attorneys, or an HR department that may be skeptical explains why so many sexual assault survivors stay silent. It is traumatizing to be violated in the first place, and it only cuts deeper when the victim is blamed for someone else’s unlawful act or the victim’s truthfulness is questioned. Furthermore, many women stay quiet include fear of retaliation, belief that HR or legal professionals won’t do anything to help.
As many as 1 in 3 women between the ages of 18 and 34 have suffered sexual harassment at work, according to a 2016 poll. Yet, as of 2015, only 40,500 sexual harassment reports were filed. Roughly 70% of those who experience sexual harassment at work don’t tell a superior, according to a report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Law of 1964, sexual harassment is considered a form of gender discrimination because it is harassing conduct that occurs because of an individual’s gender. The EEOC defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, including text messages and emails.
Even with good company culture, most women never report sexual harassment. Why? Many women feel that the odds are stacked against them. But, it does not have to be that way. There are many federal protections under Title VII and other federal statutes. Also, New York State and New York City law provides additional protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Furthermore, Federal, State, and City laws prohibit retaliation. Retaliation includes punishing job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination including sexual harassment. Asserting these rights is called “protected activity,” and it can take many forms such as having your attorney file with the EEOC, submitting a lawsuit, resisting sexual advances, or making complaints.
If you feel like you need help or a way out contact the experienced New York City sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC. If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your gender, please give our attorneys a call at (800) 807-2209 for your free consultation.