Revamp of Sexual Harassment Policies Needed at Philadelphia Museum of Art

January 30th, 2020

After a recent New York Times article brought to light allegations of sexual harassment against a former Philadelphia Museum of Art assistant director, the board of directors at the well-respected museum voiced concerns about the claims and vowed to reexamine the policies in place to ensure that employees feel confident that they are shielded from abusive and intimidating behavior in the future.

The article exposed the allegations against the former assistant director, who at the time of the report was serving as the executive director of the Erie Art Museum. The initial allegations came from a young female intern at the Erie Art Museum, contending that he invited her to his house and then retaliated when his advancements were rebuffed. The intern’s complaints were investigated by management, and no action was taken. The incident supposedly occurred shortly after he arrived at the Erie Art Museum, but the accounts shared with the article brought up questions that led reporters to start poking around in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Employees Corroborate

While the Philadelphia Museum of Art declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his departure, reporters learned of troubling accounts of similar behavior from several female employees who worked there. Reporters talked to several women, some of whom worked under the former assistant director, while others simply believed he held sway over their opportunities, despite their positions being in separate departments within the museum. These women gave accounts in which they felt coerced to enable or endure his harassing treatment. Four of the women freely entered relationships with him, some sharing accounts in which he repeatedly suggested that they only held their jobs because they were dating.

Reaction at the Museum

As the allegations were exposed, employees at the Philadelphia museum could be seen wearing red “We Believe Women” buttons, which were initially prohibited before management retracted the demand. In November, the former assistant director was banned by Philadelphia Museum of Art officials from entering the premises. Other support for the victims came in the form of an online petition to the Erie Art Museum to fire him, which seems to have succeeded as an announcement on the museum’s Facebook page revealed that he no longer worked there.

Employers who ignore or cover up instances of sexual harassment to save face or protect offenders do so at the cost of breaking the law. Employers who disregard their employees’ welfare in such a way are allowing for unsafe workplace conditions that violate employment laws. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the board’s decision to revisit their sexual harassment policies is a step in the right direction, but the institution has a long way to go to prove that their efforts will truly reform a culture that allowed this behavior for so long.

Philadelphia Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Sexual Harassment Victims

If you were the victim of workplace sexual harassment and your employer has not properly addressed your concerns, you should speak to a Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. We can help you force the issue and get results. Contact us online or call 215-569-1999 to set up a free consultation. With offices in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

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