The man who Sandra Pezqueda says sexually harassed her and ultimately got her fired has never been disciplined for his actions. That’s even though the man, who was her boss when she worked as a dishwasher and chef’s assistant at the luxurious Terrenea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, beginning in 2015, persistently switched her schedule so she’d be working alone near him, repeatedly offered to give her more hours if she’d go out with him, and twice tried to kiss her in a storeroom at work, according to Pezqueda. That’s even though, when she complained about his behavior to the staffing agency that employed them both, Pezqueda says supervisors began seeking reasons to fire her, eventually letting her go in February 2016. “I knew if I spoke up there would be retaliation,” Pezqueda, now 37, told me. “That’s why other women never speak up about what happened to them.”
For all the Harvey Weinsteins, Al Frankens, and Russell Simmonses who have lost their jobs after allegations surfaced of sexual harassment, there is a sobering truth often lost in the #MeToo movement—the push for accountability has class dimensions. Many other less famous men, who have harassed women in less high-profile fields, have not been held accountable. Virtually all of the men who have been publicly excoriated for their conduct have worked in industries like Hollywood, or politics, or law, that the public tends to study with laser-like focus. “If an employer isn’t worried that there’s going to be some huge public-relations issue stemming from harassment, then that is one less reason for the employer to take it seriously,” Emily Martin, the general counsel and vice president for workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center, told me.