If you're sexually harassed at work, the right thing is to report it to HR, and if that doesn't solve the problem, file a complaint with the EEOC and/or hire an employment attorney, right? Many, many women (and men--remember, sexual harassment isn't just a one way street), don't do that. Are they wrong?
In an interview with Kristen Powers, Donald Trump said that if his daughter, Ivanka, was sexually harassed as Megyn Kelly claims she was, that "I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case."
Lots of people do this and, in lots of cases, it's the right decision. Suing--or even just complaining--about sexual harassment can turn your life upside down. My brother, the lawyer, likes to say that in many lawsuits the only winners are the attorneys. Everybody else has years and years of stress. Every aspect of their lives are put under microscopes and, if it's high profile, they could have an online record of everything that comes up every time someone googles the name.
When the process works as it's supposed to, you file a complaint with HR (or with a manager, depending on the company) that states clearly, as attorney Donna Ballman recommends, "Formal complaint of sexual harassment," the company investigates, the perpetrator is punished, and the harassment stops. That's ideal, and, in many companies, it does work like that. In others? Not so much. And when you're dealing with a high profile person, like Megyn Kelly was, the business often wants to protect its superstar. Who pays the price? The low-level person.
So, if you can find a new job and get the heck out of that horrible place, it's a perfectly logical decision, and Trump is right in that aspect. However, if Ivanka Trump was harassed, she's precisely the woman who should fight back.
Why her, if not everyone? She's got money. She's got name recognition. She'd be a formidable force for any company to take on. She could make a huge difference for women everywhere who don't have money and power. She's precisely the woman who should fight back.
Likewise, Megyn Kelly now has the money and the power and the prestige to fight back, so now is the right time to fight back. People ask why she didn't complain long before. I'll tell you why--she knew it would destroy her career. She made the right decision to fight back now that she's not in danger of ruining her career.
It would be great if every company tackled sexual harassment complaints straight on and made sure that sexual harassment and discrimination never happened again. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Protecting yourself makes sense. But, if you're a woman with power and money, and someone is stupid enough to sexually harass you, fight back. Fight back for all the people who can't afford an attorney. Fight back for the women who don't know they can file a complaint with the EEOC for free. Fight back for the single mom, working two jobs, who can't afford to be out of work for even 5 minutes. Someone like Ivanka Trump, or Megyn Kelly fighting back can make a world of difference for those who literally cannot.
So, yes, Trump is correct that sometimes you should get a new job and move on. But, his daughter? She should fight, should it ever happen to her.