Spectrum News produced a one-hour live town hall event on Jan. 10 entitled "Silent No More -- Harassment in the Workplace," which focused on the recent movement regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.

  • Panelists said sexual harassment not a new problem in workplace
  • Issue highlighted by recent scandals involving celebrities, politicians
  • Town Hall will air again Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Hosted by anchor Veronica Cintron, four panelists participated in the event: Evangeline Hawthorne, director of the Tampa Field Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Jennifer Green, President of Owner of Liberty Partners of Tallahassee; James Moten Thompson, Thompson Legal Center; and Sierra Bender, a women's empowerment advocate.

The panelists said sexual harassment is a problem in today's workplace, but not necessarily a new one.

"This has been going on for years, and why all of the sudden are we starting to pay attention? Why are we listening now?" Bender asked early in the program.

The panelists said it's because the issue is getting a lot of attention from celebrities in Hollywood and politicians both in Washington, D.C. and Tallahassee.

"I think for the most part it's been pretty positive," Green said. "I mean, we've joked a little bit about how this is a really odd situation to be in. We're in the South and people hug here as a welcome gesture and you're wondering whether or not you should continue to do that."

They said both women and men seem to be becoming less afraid to report sexual harassment.

"Now that individuals and employees can feel empowered to actually do something, they don't have to suffer in silence, they can actually feel encouraged and respected that if they complain there is recourse," said Hawthorne.

They also stressed the importance of "due process" and thorough investigations to weed out false complaints.

"The key is whether it's a welcome type of flirting or a welcome type of action or whether it's unwelcome," said Thompson.

"Silent No More -- Harassment in the Workplace" will re-air Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. on both Spectrum Bay News 9 and Spectrum News 13.