Men Claim Sexual Harassment, Too

American Online sexual harassment gender CBS/AP

Leonel Collazo loved his job at America Online. That is, he says, until his female boss started coming onto him. Things really got ugly when he was asked to drive her home from a business dinner where she'd been drinking.

"That's when she started to put her hands on me, she started to grope me," says Collazo.

Collazo says he repeatedly pushed her away. When he got her home, he helped her inside.

"She pushes me in and she closes the door and she locks it, and she stands in front of it and she says 'don't leave, give me a kiss," says Collazo.

When he went for another exit, Collazo says she grabbed his ankles and pulled them.

"She tackled me - tried to drag me down the steps again," he says.

Eventually he got away. But, as CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, that was only the start of his troubles. His boss Kristen Carmen began picking apart his work. Distraught that he might end up getting fired for rebuffing her, he confided in another supervisor who didn't want to be identified.

The supervisor believed Collazo because, he says, something similar happened to him with Carmen.

"She groped me and then she attempted to - actually she did - physically kiss me," says the supervisor.

The scenario is not as rare as you might think. Sexual harassment cases filed by men are up 50 percent over the past ten years.

"This is a cultural perception that harassment only affects women, and to the contrary, harassment is an equal opportunity problem," says Cari Dominguez, who heads the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The AOL men say they started getting their first negative work reports after they reported Carmen's unwanted advances.

When Collazo tried to tell human resources the harassment was continuing, they told him via an e-mail: "We don't need to be kept in the loop about every instance. You should be focused on ... being a team player."

One supervisor even suggested he might have brought it all on himself.

"He says, 'Well, you know, you work out. You're fit. So maybe you could've come onto her. Maybe you shouldn't be wearing the clothes that you're wearing,'" says Collazo.

AOL told CBS News it "does not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind," and that it investigated the matter in 2001 and "took appropriate action."

Carmen wouldn't agree to an interview. She's still a director at AOL.

Collazo's future at AOL is uncertain. He's now filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging ongoing retalitation.

"It's humiliating. It's embarrassing. You feel like no one is going to believe you," he says.

Men are often taught what lines not to cross at work, but Collazo says they don't get much help when the tables are turned.
  • Jaime Holguin

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter