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Archie Comics Dealing With Sexual Harassment Issues

Archie Comics CEO Nancy Silberkleit files sexual harassment charges against Sam Levitin in August of this year.  With all of this going on, it didn’t stop Nancy Silberkleit from declaring her run for the Mayor race for Rye, New York.

There’s a fight going on in the world of Archie Comics, and this one is bigger and more vicious than the battles between Betty and Veronica for Archie’s affections. In fact, it will have many rethinking what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace.

Nancy Silberkleit is suing her colleague at Archie Comics, Sam Levitin, for sexual harassment. What makes the lawsuit surprising is that Silberkleit is the co-CEO of Archie Comics and that Levitin is her liaison to the company. What’s more – Silberkleit herself was accused of harassing employees in 2011.

In December 2012, Levitin filed court papers requesting Silberkleit be removed from her position because, according to an article from New York Daily News, “She lacks functional communication skills and has an unstable temperament.” Silberkleit countersued, citing Levitin’s “unwelcome advances,” including leering at her and asking when she was getting breast implants.

Whether or not Levitin is found liable in the case, the question many people are asking is – can a woman in power be the victim of sexual harassment?

Losing power when you’re in power

According to a study by the University of Maine and the University of Minnesota, women in supervisory roles experience harassing behaviors 138 percent more than women in lower positions and 73 percent more frequently.

Managers and supervisors have long been trained by human resources departments to avoid propositioning or harassing their subordinates. While they’ve become accustomed to watching their manners around assistants, interns and junior associates, when it comes to women in upper management, they often let their guard down. In some instances, the harassment may even stem from managers on down to subordinates if the company maintains a “good old boys” mentality.

The study exposes that harassment occurs most frequently in male-dominated industries in which women step out of traditional female roles – in fact, 58 percent of female supervisors have experienced harassment by their coworkers. Sexual harassment from colleagues in power often occurs out of the mindset to keep women in their place and make rising to the top more difficult. Unfortunately, women in supervisory roles are often under greater pressure to prove their ability to perform their jobs and may feel they have no one to turn to, especially if there are no other women in similar positions at the organization.

In the experience of harassment cases of this magnitude the female is usually said to either be “crazy” or “asking for it”, which is used as a strategy to discredit the accuser.  Who knows what the right answer in this case.  We will have to wait and see what happens.

“Women supervisors who hold authority over some men directly challenge the presumptive superiority of men,” reported the writers of the study. “When women are able to crack the glass ceiling and attain leadership positions, stereotypical gender beliefs about their ‘natural’ abilities continue to shape perceptions of their job performance.”

The results from the study are interesting when reviewing the Silberkleit case. Silberkleit’s co-CEO position puts her in a unique position as she shares her power over the company with another CEO – Jon Goldwater – with whom she’s also faced in a bitter court battle. Unlike other CEO’s, Silberkleit simply can’t terminate the role of someone who is her subordinate, especially when news stories report that her own role at the company could be at risk.

But one thing is certain – things are about to get very dirty in Riverdale.

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