Nasty, but rarer
Still a live issue in the workplace
THREE women complained of unwanted advances from their boss at the National Restaurant Association.
Two received financial settlements.
Because the boss in question was Herman Cain, now a Republican presidential hopeful, this news has revived a long-running debate about sexual harassment in the workplace.
The details of the complaints made in the settlements have remained private.
A fourth woman who has alleged that Mr Cain groped her was not an employee at the time and did not receive any settlement.
Mr Cain denies that he did anything inappropriate.
The fact that there has been a settlement does not by itself tell you there was any truth to the allegations,
says Richard Simmons, an employment lawyer at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.
Firms often pay off disgruntled accusers rather than go to court, since juries are unpredictable, damages can be steep and the publicity of a trial is always unwelcome.
Conservatives think the deck is stacked against employers. Liberals disagree.
Mr Simmons thinks sexual harassment is much less widespread in the American workplace than it was in the 1990s.
The number of harassment cases tracked by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has risen, but this is probably because victims are more likely to report it.
A Supreme Court ruling in 1986 made firms liable if they allow a hostile environment in which harassment is tolerated.
This led to the near-universal adoption of codes of conduct, setting out how coworkers may interact and limiting how bosses may behave towards underlings.
Industries such as carmaking and finance, which once produced big sexual-harassment lawsuits, are less male-dominated than before,
which may explain why they appear to have cleaned up their acts.
The worst behaviour today tends to be in industries where women are a small minority,
such as construction or firefighting, or where workers are disproportionately young or too desperate to complain, says Michelle Caiola of Legal Momentum,
如建筑业和消防工作，或者在年轻人尤其多的快餐店和因太恐惧而不敢投诉的人身上发生，来自 Legal Momentum的Michelle Caiola这样说道，
which provides legal support for women.
Lawsuits about gross misconduct have given way to lawsuits alleging discrimination on pay and promotion.
Such cases typically hinge on different interpretations of statistics rather than differing accounts of what happened by the photocopier.
Victims often are reluctant to complain, for fear of retaliation.
In the past year, however, the Supreme Court has favoured victims in four cases alleging retaliation after various types of complaint—a rare instance of the current court ruling against business.
American business is far from perfect, but it is generally agreed to be leading the way in tackling sexual harassment.
Most other countries have a lot of catching up to do.
It is only three years since a judge in St Petersburg, Russia, threw out a case on the ground that:
If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children.