Herman Cain Vindicated on Sexual Harassment AllegationsPosted: November 5, 2011
After a week of having his name dragged through the mud by liberal political operatives, Herman Cain emerges from the allegations unscathed and to a large extent vindicated. His upstanding character remains intact.
First, we have some lawyer who purports to represent one of the women who had made allegations in the 1990s against Cain running around all week blowing smoke and garnering headlines. He made a big deal about having the NRA let his client out of her confidentiality agreement so she could tell her side of the story. But when the NRA agreed to waive the confidentiality agreement, well, suddenly this woman doesn’t want to tell her side of the story. We are simply left with some muck raking lawyer sticking his nose where it is not wanted and engaging in all manner of libelous innuendo. When the time comes to put up or shut up, he’s got nothing but his own hot air. So his schtick is completely busted.
Second, the NRA makes it’s own statement on the situation wherein it clarifies that the agreement with this woman in no way acknowledges liability (on the part of the organization or Cain) with respect to the woman’s allegations and reiterates that Cain had disputed the charges at the time. This is completely consistent with Cain’s current denials of having harassed anyone.
Third, we also learn that the agreement with this woman does not even include Cain as a party to the agreement. It was made without his involvement or signature. It was strictly between the NRA and the woman.
The National Restaurant Association released a statement Friday confirming that over a decade ago, a female employee filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment against then-association head Herman Cain. Cain disputed the allegations at the time, according to the trade group.
The association told the woman’s attorney it is willing to waive the confidentiality agreement signed by the parties involved — although not by Cain himself — but her lawyer, Joel P. Bennett, said in his own statement Friday that the woman wishes to remain a private citizen and would not be revealing further details regarding her story.
“Based upon the information currently available, we can confirm that more than a decade ago, in July 1999, Mr. Bennett’s client filed a formal internal complaint, in accordance with the Association’s existing policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment,” NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney said.“Mr. Herman Cain disputed the allegations in the complaint.”
Sweeney said an agreement was reached “without an admission of liability,” and that Cain, now a GOP presidential candidate, was “not a party to the agreement.”
Since Politico reported Sunday night that two female employees of a trade group lodged sexual harassment claims against Cain years ago, the campaign has raked in $1.2 million, aides say, and the quirky and outspoken businessman has been a fixture on cable news.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll published Friday shows him virtually tied with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the lead in the race for the GOP nomination, with most Republicans shrugging off the allegations but sizeable minorities nevertheless saying the scandal could make them less likely to vote for him.
Fourth, we now have Politico publishing a piece which highlights that at the time of these allegations the entire restaurant industry was awash in such allegations in the wake of the Anita Hill allegations against Clarence Thomas. It was the hot issue of the day and everyone was treating it with super politically correct gloves which likely led to many such allegations being simply paid off to avoid any public exposure. In other words, the settlement was likely just a business decision at the time.
Finally, the Politico piece also highlights that while Herman Cain was CEO of the NRA he was very aware of the legal concerns raised by sexual harassment allegations and he and his organization where not only pro-active, but were industry leaders in combating the problem through the production of educational materials and encouraging association members to adopt formal policies against it. We now see that Herman Cain was actually part of the vanguard developing policies against such harassment in the workplace and which are present in most businesses today. This is hardly the pedigree of someone who does not take the issue seriously.
When sexual harassment complaints against Herman Cain unfolded at the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s, the issue was all too familiar for the trade association.
In the wake of the televised 1991 Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings — and the widely publicized sexual harassment charges leveled against him by Anita Hill — American businesses had been hit by a wave of sexual harassment cases. And the restaurant industry, in particular, was hit especially hard.
Industry officials saw it coming — none other than Cain himself warned as long ago as 1991 that changes in federal law resulting from the hearings could cause problems for employers.
“This bill opens the door for opportunists who will use the legislation to make some money,” Cain, then CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “I’m certainly for civil rights, but I don’t know if this bill is fair because of what we’ll have to spend to defend ourselves in unwarranted cases.”
When it came to litigation and bad publicity, Scher said, the restaurant industry “faced some of the worst of it.”
Given the sheer size of the restaurant industry, a source familiar with the industry said, the number of cases in fiscal 1997 only represented about “a tenth of a percent of the workforce at the time.” But the broader issue of sexual harassment was nonetheless a serious enough concern that the NRA embarked on an effort to educate both its staffers and members on the issue, which included moves to implement sexual harassment policies and training.
With Cain at the helm as CEO in 1998, the association created a video to explain sexual harassment laws to its members – and created a sample sexual harassment policy for individual restaurants to use, according to a Chicago Tribune story at the time.
The NRA’s Educational Foundation began offering a training program for member restaurants called, “What’s the Big Deal? Sexual Harassment Prevention Program,” in addition to its ServSafe safety and alcohol training materials. Today, according to the ServSafe website, restaurants can purchase employee and manager training brochures, as well as DVDs to explain acceptable practices.
While the NRA could not confirm details of its policies to POLITICO, a 1999 article in the organization’s Restaurants USA magazine outlines the three key components of a successful sexual harassment policy for restaurants.
“It should clearly state that sexual harassment will not be tolerated; it should define what sexual harassment is; and it should tell employees exactly how to register a complaint,” the article says.
In the wake of two important harassment cases that made it to the Supreme Court in 1998, Kilgore — who handled the two settlements involving Cain for the association — told Restaurants USA, the NRA’s magazine, in 1999 that creating and distributing sexual harassment policies had become “mandatory now” in the wake of those decisions.