$150K for Sexual Harassment in Public Library
The Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham, AL, had (and may still have) an anything-goes policy that allowed pornography, and as a result the librarian was repeatedly sexually harassed by patrons. Result? A $150K settlement with the city of Birmingham. And she's not the only librarian forced to sue in that library after library management refused to budge:
- "Birmingham Settled Sexually Hostile Work Environment Suit Against Library for $150,000," by Kent Faulk, The Birmingham News, 3 May 2012.
- "Birmingham and Library Board Settle Sexually Hostile Workplace Lawsuit," by Kent Faulk, The Birmingham News, 19 April 2012.
American Library Association and Sexually Harassed Librarians
The American Library Association [ALA], the leading group advising libraries nationwide how to skirt the Children's Internet Protection Act [CIPA] that would have blocked pornography, the group that state/federal filtering case winning library director Dean Marney says uses "dogma" to mislead people, the group where Birmingham library director Irene Blalock "is a member ... and presently serves on the board of the Public Library Association, a division of ALA," has done nothing to help the injured librarians. In addition it has suppressed information on this latest librarian sexual harassment settlement from its publications.
Besides the ALA, the non-ALA Library Journal is also hiding something. For example, the recent $150K settlement is nowhere to be found in the Library Journal or the ALA's monthly American Libraries magazine, its ILoveLibraries.org, or its home ALA.org, even months later.
The Library Journal Plays Hide the "Poppycock"
- "ALA Picks and Pans: Programs by Topic & Specialty," by John N. Berry III, Library Journal, 1 June 2002:
Pornography in Libraries: Sexual Harassment?
ACRL. Sun., Jun. 16, 10:30 a.m.-noon. Does the availability of sexually explicit materials on the Internet really create a sexually hostile workplace for library staff? The EEOC says 'probably,' but they don't write laws. Hear that poppycock and a response from librarians who still believe in intellectual freedom.
|Highlighting the "poppycock" with which
the Library Journal mocked those
who say library porn may lead
to sexual harassment cases.
Is $150K poppycock? Is $435K poppycock?
$435K for Sexual Harassment in Adamson v. Minneapolis Public Library
As to the $435K case, see:
- "No Smut At Work, Please," by Gary Young and Staff Reporter, The National Law Journal, 15 September 2003:
On Aug. 15, the Minneapolis Public Library announced that it had agreed to pay $435,000 to 12 employees-lead plaintiff Wendy Adamson, five other librarians, five aides and a page-who accused the library administration of subjecting them to a hostile work environment by leaving them exposed to pornography.
- "EEOC Finds Library Policy of Unrestricted Internet Access Creates Sexually Hostile Work Environment for Librarians," by Unnamed, Tech Law Journal, 23 May 2001:
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Minneapolis Area Office, issued a Determination that the Minneapolis Public Library subjected librarians employed by the library to a "sexually hostile work environment" in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for maintaining a policy of unrestricted Internet access.
- "Controversial Ruling on Library Filters," by Carl S. Kaplan, Cyber Law Journal, The New York Times, 1 June 2001:
In early 1997, the Minneapolis Public Library began giving its patrons unfettered and unlimited access to the Internet. The library's First Amendment-inspired policy was intended to provide a needed service to the community. But Wendy Adamson, a reference desk librarian at the library's central branch, said it effectively made her working life a nightmare, and federal officials appear poised to agree with her.
Acting on complaints from Adamson and other librarians at the city's central branch library, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Minneapolis office ruled last week that the library, by exposing its staff to sexually explicit images on unrestricted computer terminals, may have allowed for a hostile work environment. The blockbuster finding, issued on May 23 following an investigation by the agency, came in response to complaints filed a year ago by Adamson and 11 of her colleagues.
Free speech advocates quickly expressed concern that the E.E.O.C.'s decision is a dangerous precedent that could pressure libraries to aggressively monitor patrons' viewing habits or install filtering software as a means to ward off potential discrimination suits. But Adamson and Bob Halagan, the lawyer for the librarians, hailed the commission's finding as a victory for common sense.
Adamson said the complaints were filed only after she and other librarians repeatedly notified library officials about their concerns and detailed what they said were the new policy’s negative impact on staff and patrons.
"Our downtown library became a club for a large number of men who were viewing pornography all day," Adamson, who has been a librarian for over 30 years, said in an interview. "I'd see these men at the door at 9 a.m. and some of them would still be there at 9 at night."
Adamson said that while she was sitting at her workplace and doing her job, she would look up and see "horrible" stuff on the screens of nearby terminals. "I'm talking about torture and sex with animals," she said. It was "really demoralizing and depressing."
Computer printouts of sexually explicit pictures littered the library, Adamson said. She said she saw some men at computer terminals engage in what appeared to her to be masturbation and that computer users would verbally abuse her when she tried to enforce time limits.
The worst part of her day, she said, was watching, helplessly, as members of the public—including children—encountered unwanted sexual images on terminals. Often, she said, a patron who wanted to do conventional research would approach a terminal and find that it was locked onto a sexually explicit site—owing to a "quicksand" feature some porn sites use that prevents users from leaving the site. She said she repeatedly had to calm the patrons and reset the terminal's browser.
"We were told [by administrators] to avert our eyes. But we were surrounded by it," she said, adding that library officials did not respond to staff complaints about the policy.
For her part, Adamson said that she hopes the ruling will empower other librarians who feel harassed to speak up.
Blocking Porn is Antithetical to Intellectual Freedom?
Read that poppycock paragraph again: "Hear that poppycock and a response from librarians who still believe in intellectual freedom." Notice anything? In context with the title and the rest of the paragraph, the writer is saying that blocking pornography is antithetical to "intellectual freedom." The US Supreme Court said the exact opposite a year later in 2003. So the ALA (and Library Journal) is teaching things that it wants people to think but that is simply the exact opposite of reality. See:
- US v. ALA, 539 US 194 (2003), e.g., "public libraries' use of Internet filtering software does not violate their patrons' First Amendment rights." See also:
- "Library Porn Challenge," by Annoyed Librarian, Annoyed Librarian, 5 March 2007,
- "The Problem of Library Porn for Librarians," by Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, 4 May 2011, "[Librarians who defend pornography access]… sound like fools when they defend public library porn because of an alleged dedication to access to information. Men who sit in front of library computers viewing Internet porn aren't 'accessing information,' unless we want to make 'accessing information' a new euphemism for getting sexually aroused and possibly doing something about that arousal," and
- "Libraries and Porn Privacy," by Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, 27 April 2011.
ALA Propagandist Attorney Theresa Chamara
- "Why Recent Court Decisions Don't Change the Rules on Filtering," by Theresa Chmara, American Libraries, 24 July 2012:
Libraries should continue to be wary of using internet filtering systems that block constitutionally protected material for adults or minors. .... If libraries use filters that block constitutionally protected material deemed harmful to minors and do not allow adults to disable filters, or fail to provide an effective unblocking system, those libraries may open the door to years of litigation and significant legal expenses.
Further, Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, points out the significant differences between a filtering suit and a sexual harassment suit, something else Ms. Chmara conveniently omits:
Of course, a library that uses filtering software on all its terminals risks inviting—and losing—a First Amendment lawsuit, Volokh said, alluding to a 1998 federal district court decision declaring that the filtering policy of a public library in Loudoun County, Va., was unconstitutional. [Note: US v. ALA grew out of that case and effectively reversed the Loudoun decision.]
But losing a First Amendment lawsuit will subject a library to "nominal damages," Volokh said. Losing a Title VII discrimination lawsuit can result in damages "with lots of zeros in it," he said. Faced with the choice between two equally hazardous legal alternatives, library trustees will logically opt to install filters and ward off harassment suits with potentially massive damages, he said.Exactly.
Can you see why the ALA attorney conveniently left that out? Quote source: "Controversial Ruling on Library Filters," by Carl S. Kaplan, Cyber Law Journal, The New York Times, 1 June 2001.
Keep In Mind That ALA Intentionally Misleads on Library Filtering
Keep this in mind when false advice comes your way from the ALA. ALA said filters were unconstitutional. False. ALA said blocking porn violates intellectual freedom. False. ALA now says libraries may be exposed to litigation for filtering computers. True, but not the whole truth, it is very rare, and it pales in comparison to consequences for not filtering, as Mr. Volokh pointed out.
Librarians May Wish to Consider Other Sources of Library News
If you are a librarian reading this post, this may be the only source of information for you about sexual harassment in libraries due to unfettered porn occasioned by ALA diktat. ALA/Library Journal suppresses such information and calls it "poppycock." In contrast, information contained herein, along with the underlying hyperlinks and their associated primary sources linked therein such as actual legal complaints, may give you what you need to bring your own legal action for redress and an end to ALA policy applied locally that is causing so much harm—like $150K worth of harm for one librarian, the case for the other librarian still in the works, and $435K worth of harm for twelve librarians.
Birmingham Public Library $187,107.94 CIPA Fraud
how the Birmingham Public Library may be defrauding the federal government. In the year and a half since then, I am now convinced that the library is indeed defrauding the federal government, I can prove it, and I will submit a CIPA Whistleblower Alert.
- First, reread what I wrote about the issue in the past.
- Second, I hereby update those numbers which show the fraud continued even after the filing of the EEOC complaints and civil suits and even after I provided the library with notice that it may be committing fraud:
- 2010: $21,805.20
- 2011: $6,814.08 + $16,935.36 = $23,749.44
- Total defrauded from 2004 to 2011: $187,107.94
- Third, while the library has computer filters, they are being disabled for porn, not just for "bona fide research or other lawful purposes," as CIPA requires. This is obvious in light of the $150K settlement in one of the sexual harassment cases. The other is still in litigation.
- Fourth, in violation of CIPA, adults may turn off the filters for themselves. CIPA requires a librarian to do this. As the Library Journal put it, "Birmingham filters the Internet but allows adult users to turn the filter off."
- Fifth, and this is the smoking gun, watch plaintiff Barbara Ann Wilson describe how the filters "do not work," and that violates CIPA:
[Ms Wilson] We do have filters but they do not work.
[Mr. Morel] And their response, in essence, in writing was we have a filter and her allegations have no validity.
Is There a Tactical Effort to Settle Cases to Prevent Precedent Setting?
The $435K case settled. Now the $150K case settled. Who wants to bet that the cases are settling due to a tactical effort to avoid any court from setting precedent by ruling that pornography in public libraries may lead to sexually harassing work environments like the EEOC did? I predict all such cases will settle because the ALA and its acolytes do not want a poppycock precedent.
ALA Will Never Assist Sexually Harassed Librarians
ALA even misleads the entire nation to think library porn is not a problem while library filters are. In furtherance of maintaining the illusion of control over public libraries to allow continuing access to unfettered porn, such people will never come to the assistance of the employees suffering as a direct result, they will never provide truthful information when misleading people carries their agenda so much further.
Advice for Attorneys to Push for More Settlement Money
Therefore, given the above, I hereby suggest that attorney Adam Morel push for an even higher settlement percentage for the next harassment case. The library would rather settle than allow a precedent that will show other librarians the way to stop being harassed in their own libraries as a result of unlimited porn. And see if this helps any:
- "Challenges and Solutions for Public Employers: Maintaining Work Environments Free of Harassment and Discrimination by Non-Employees," by Hope N. Chaut, 93 Cal. L. Rev. 1455 (2005).
Nice new logo. Just add "of poppycock and porn" to the end of the sentence.
Lastly, note I have been writing and speaking on this particular injustice in Birmingham for years, since 18 January 2011. I'll be happy to assist any library employee or legal counsel.
Isn't It Sad
Isn't it sad that SafeLibraries is speaking out for sexually harassed librarians and library employees, while "ALA Blowhards" do nothing to help and may actually be making things worse? "Know the ALA."
Hat Tip to Safe Schools, Safe Libraries Project
Hat tip: "Birmingham Settled Sexually Hostile Work Environment Suit Against Library for $150,000," by Dawn Hawkins, Safe Schools, Safe Libraries Project, 8 August 2012. Note: Safe Schools, Safe Libraries Project is not SafeLibraries, and I recommend following them on Twitter @Porn_Harms. Curious note: The Birmingham Public Library @BPL, free speech advocates as they want us to think they are with all porn all the time, blocks me from following them on Twitter!