|ALA saying sexual harassment |
never happened, never will.
ALA'S DEBORAH CALDWELL-STONE, ESQ.
I’m Deborah Caldwell-Stone. I am an attorney employed by the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association.
Um, I have thought carefully about what I might say tonight, um, and I could go tit for tat, challenging some of the conclusions that have been offered to you about the legal authorities that govern Internet access in libraries and hostile work environment. I will only tell you, and um be brief about it, that it's far more complex than it's being represented here tonight. In fact, the libraries that were sued for hostile work environment settled the cases. They weren’t forced to pay any money. Um, the settlement was uh reached with a mutual agreement with the librarians involved to get rid of the lawsuit and both, uh, in fact, both in Minneapolis and in Birmingham the EEOC and the Department of Justice declined to sue on behalf of the librarians.
Hostile work environment is a very fact-based lawsuit. I’m sure your legal counsel can tell you that. You must have very strict, uh, standards to bring a lawsuit. You have to be targeted because you are part of a protected class based on race, sex, ethnicity or religion. Um, the harassment must be a result of your membership in the protected class. So these are far more complex lawsuits than, uh, is being represented here. And there've only been three of them over time, over the last twenty years of Internet access in libraries.
So I encourage you to get good legal consultation on these facts, uh, uh, um, about these things. We’re happy to assist, um, but I’m sure that there're other attorneys who can assist you as well.
I do want to reiterate that I work with libraries on developing policies on a regular basis. You have very strong policies, they're very child protective, they're respective of your, uh, users’ rights to access the Internet and the library materials under the First Amendment, and there are First Amendment rights that accrue to library users. And, um, I want to, uh, just express my, uh, my respect and my appreciation for your professionalism in all of this.