Just when we women thought the days of sexual harassment in the workplace were behind us -- well, that might sound a little too hopeful, it's probably safer to say the behavior has become far less acceptable -- we hear a story that blows our minds.
A female executive at Yahoo has reportedly filed a sexual harassment complaint against another woman -- her boss -- after she claims she was coerced into having a sexual relationship with her and was then fired after she tried to call the whole thing off.
Nan Shi has accused Maria Zhang -- who is a bigwig at Yahoo -- of forcing her to have sex with her and promising her "a bright future at Yahoo" in exchang for sexual favors. Shi says she was persuaded to have "oral and digital sex" with her boss and that Zhang held several factors over her head if she didn't agree to have sex with her, including her "job, stocks, and future."
When Shi tried to put an end to their affair, she says she was punished with a bad job performance review. She says Zhang also removed the software engineer as a project lead. Shi complained to Yahoo, but says the company did not take action against her employer, put her on an unpaid leave, and then fired her just last week.
If her claims are true, this is obviously incredibly harsh -- and it sets women back about 50 years. I'm ashamed to admit this, but my initial reaction when I read this story was a little different than it would have been if this same tale involved a male boss and his female worker. I couldn't help but think: oh come on, she could have easily fended off this woman's advances.
But that way of thinking is wrong -- plain and simple. Sexual harassment has nothing to do with whether one party is physically stronger than the other -- it has everything to do with power. And it's completely possible that a woman in power could abuse it by threatening another female in the workplace. It's unfortunate and sad because we like to think that women will support one another's career achievements. Let's hope, if Shi's claims are accurate, that the company does the right thing by its employee.
Are you surprised when you hear about sexual harassment cases involving two women in the workplace?
Image via Eric Hayes/Flickr