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1/3 OF WOMEN REPORT SEXUAL HARASSMENT

One-third of the women who responded to a recent Deseret News/KSL TV poll said sexual harassment occurs often in the workplace and is not taken seriously by employers.

Of the 602 Utahns interviewed by pollster Dan Jones & Associates, 35 percent of the female and 5 percent of the male respondents who have supervisors said they had been sexually harassed at work within the past 10 years.And 9 percent of the female respondents said they had been touched or fondled in an offensive manner at work by a supervisor or colleague.

Yet, the poll also showed 35 percent of the people questioned said sexual harassment can be a problem but that it is often exaggerated.

Charlotte Miller, an attorney with the Salt Lake law firm of Watkiss & Campbell, which specializes in corporate law, said sexual harassment may occur more often than reflected in the Jones poll, but many people are unaware of what constitutes sexual harassment.

Some people believe sexual harassment is limited to an employer coercing an employee to have sexual relations in order to retain a job or gain a promotion.

"That's the extreme. There are many things that can be construed as sexual harassment," Miller said.

Women are not the only victims of sexual harassment. Of the men who have supervisors, 7 percent told pollsters they were forced to listen dirty jokes; 3 percent were pressured to date co-workers and 7 percent reported they had unflattering remarks made about their clothing.

As more women move into management, the number of men who experience sexual harassment may increase, Miller said. But diversity in the work force may also enlighten both men and women about sexual harassment, which could help stem incidents in the future, she said.

Miller said she advises clients to develop programs aimed at preventing sexual harassment, rather than establishing policies just to limit legal damages.

Sandra Fitzgerald, training officer of Utah Job Service, said she believes state and local governments take allegations of sexual harassment seriously. Gov. Norm Bangerter has made the issue a priority, she said.

Many government organizations formulated or clarified sexual harassment policies following the high-profile case involving former Salt Lake County Attorney Ted Cannon and his secretary, Shauna Clark.

"I think it may have got the attention of some key people. They do not want the same thing to happen in state government," Fitzgerald said.

Clark sued Salt Lake County, alleging Cannon made continued improper sexual advances toward her. She settled for $68,000 including attorney's fees. Cannon pleaded no contest to two counts of simple assault, and guilty to one count of attempted misuse of public money. But he was convicted of criminal defamation and official misconduct, both misdemeanors, served a 25-day jail sentence and was fined $2,000.

"Really, no one wins in this kind of case," Fitzgerald said. "The best thing to do in one of these cases is make sure it is stopped immediately."

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(poll)

How would you classify sexual harrassment in the workplace?

It rarely happens........................18%

It can be a problem but is exaggerated 35%

Happens often, but not taken seriously 25%

It's a very serious problem..............12%

Don't know................................1%

Would you say you've been sexually harrassed at your workplace within the last year? (Asked of both men and women.)

5000+v

Yes........................................8%

No .......................................91%

Don't know................................. 1%

Would you say you've been sexually harassed at yur workplace within the last 10 years? (Asked only by women.)

Yes........................................35%

No.........................................64%

Don't know..................................1%

Sample size: 603; margin of error plus or minus 4%