At former Attorney General Clarkson’s confirmation hearing, I sat in the testimony chair a few feet from him. I explained that he had already hurt me and my LGBTQ family. His decades of anti-gay lawsuits regarding equal pay/equal benefits greatly impacted my family’s health and finances. I urged no confirmation. The Alaska attorney general is the top legal enforcer of a system that protects and makes fair. To me, his years of relentless hostility toward my marginalized community indicated behavior inappropriate for an attorney general.
In my employment counseling at the Juneau Job Center, I assisted many women who experienced sexual harassment at work. I saw the lifetime impacts: inability to ever feel safe; anxiety, depression; high blood pressure; sleep disorders; no confidence; issues with job retention and lifetime income. Even if a woman sues and wins one harassment battle, she can easily lose the war, lose her job and career.
Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, measures to prevent workplace sexual harassment have been a legal priority. Last spring, both the governor and his chief of staff were apparently apprised of Clarkson’s misconduct. The harassed woman met with both, was allegedly cautioned to remain silent and apparently no immediate action was taken. At a corporation, those in power would have been fired immediately.
Worker silencing is a spectacle of unfair and illegal. Toxic workplaces boil alive. When other workers hear about the silencing, morale and productivity drop, workers leave, refilling positions is difficult. And a venomous workplace spawns people who don’t mind treating each other in substandard ways.
I’m alarmed by Gov. Dunleavy’s silence and refusal to answer questions.
• Lin Davis is a longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights and activist. She resides in Juneau.