By HOWARD MANN
Few things upset Mike Lyles more than harassment and abuse of women and children. He has dedicated his life to public service and protecting those who are preyed upon.
So he’s incredulous when he hears anyone essentially blame women for becoming victims. Such talk has been in the news recently, proving that Lyles’ role remains essential.
He fights against workplace harassment every day as Executive Director of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission, a position he has held for more than six years. As a husband and father of two daughters, the battle isn’t theoretical; it’s personal.
“We are way past the point where a woman’s attire should even enter the conversation,” say Lyles, a candidate for State’s Attorney. “It doesn’t matter what she wears. There’s no excuse for sexual harassment in the workplace, in our schools and in our community.
“Sexual harassment and sexual assault is always the assaulter’s fault,” he says. “Anyone who assigns responsibility to the women misses the point. Assault and harassment are issues of power, not sex.”
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always female subordinates suffering at the hand of male bosses or industry powerbrokers. According to research by sociologists at the University of Maine and the University of Minnesota, 58 percent of female supervisors in predominantly male work environments are likely to experience harassment, while 42 percent might expect harassment in female-dominated workplaces.
As the next State’s Attorney for Prince George’s Country, Lyles won’t blame the victims. Perpetrators of sexual harassment and/or abuse will be solely responsible for their actions.
“I’m surprised that in 2017 we still have to mention this,” he says. “The old school is the wrong school regarding women and their clothing. There’s no place for that mindset. Everyone should know better.”
He says everyone should know their rights, too, along with what constitutes sexual harassment. Generally, it’s unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or any unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. If you work in Prince George’s County and find that behavior in your place of employment, contact the Human Relations Commission.
Please visit Lyles’ campaign website to learn why he’s the best choice for State’s Attorney and best weapon to continue the fight against harassment and abuse.