The sexual harassment lawsuit against former DJs chief executive Mark McGuiness is raising eyebrows not only due to the scandalous nature of the story (which guaranteed it huge media coverage), but also the actions of the victim, Kristy Fraser-Kirk. It seems her lawyers concocted a formula seeking $37 million in punitive damages from DJs. This astronomical figure has prompted disapproval and questioning of her motives, and has raised questions as to her honesty and integrity.
Why has the focus of blame shifted from the accused to the victim? No one knows exactly what went on between the two colleagues, but it would take a huge amount of courage for a 27 year old junior to make these claims against her CEO, especially in a company as publicly visible as David Jones. Yes, she may have hired publicists and held a press conference, but perhaps she felt this was the only way she could fight her Goliath? Who knows how many employees don’t come forward, and how many senior executives continue to get away with harassment as a result? Maybe this woman’s actions will go some way towards highlighting the seriousness of sexual harassment in the workplace and cause a few people to examine their inappropriate behaviour. And that can only be a good thing – after all, our desire for respect and equality is the reason the anti-sexual harassment laws exist in the first place.
As for the $37 million, I doubt that when Kristy Fraser-Kirk made her accusations, she was personally calculating her potential compensation as a percentage of her company’s profit for the several years’ duration of her employment at the company. And I doubt that it is Fraser-Kirk who instructed her lawyers to so either.
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