WBEZ | sexual harassment http://www.wbez.org/tags/sexual-harassment Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Former CHA CEO Woodyard resigned amid sexual harassment allegations http://www.wbez.org/news/former-cha-ceo-woodyard-resigned-amid-sexual-harassment-allegations-109182 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cha_131118_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Charles Woodyard, the former CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority, left the agency amid sexual harassment allegations, WBEZ has learned.</p><p>On Oct. 15, Woodyard abruptly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-housing-authority-ceo-resigns-108927">resigned</a> after two years on the job. At the time CHA released a statement that quoted Woodyard as saying &ldquo;I am pursuing other opportunities that I hope will benefit my family and my career.&rdquo; Woodyard added he wanted to &ldquo;spend more time guiding&rdquo; his teenage son. But on Oct. 14, CHA signed a $99,000 settlement agreement with a former employee. WBEZ obtained the confidential agreement.</p><p>The female employee &ndash; whose name is redacted in records &ndash; alleges that she was a victim of sexual harassment, including physical contact by Woodyard. She alleges that she continues to require medical treatment for physical and emotional distress.</p><p>CHA and Woodyard deny the allegations.</p><p>&quot;The allegations are false. I never sexually harassed anyone,&quot; Woodyard told WBEZ.</p><p>The agreement says that one of the public housing agency&rsquo;s reasons for settling is to avoid the expense and inconvenience of defending itself. The $99,000 includes back wages, attorneys&rsquo; fees and medical treatment for the former employee.</p><p>&ldquo;The board took this allegation seriously, and determined it was in the best interest of the agency to settle it,&rdquo; CHA board chair Z. Scott said in a statement.</p><p>In August, the female employee filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that said &ldquo;during my employment, I was subject to sexual harassment. I complained to Respondent. Subsequently, I was disciplined and discharged. I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my sex, female, and in retaliation for engaging in protected activity.&rdquo; She indicated that the latest discrimination took place in June.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Woodyard in 2011. Lewis Jordan, the previous CEO, was pushed out amid questions surrounding CHA credit card use. Woodyard had run the public housing authority in Charlotte, N.C. and has an extensive real estate background. His resignation from CHA took effect Nov. 1.</p><p>Beyond the sexual harassment allegations, there had also been concerns about how quickly Woodyard was getting things done. CHA is two years from supposedly finishing its massive original $1.6 billion Plan for Transformation, the blueprint for tearing down public housing and replacing some developments with mixed-income communities. CHA revealed Plan Forward, the second phase of the plan, this past spring. It focuses on acquiring homes in neighborhoods across the city for rehab and boosting economic activity around CHA sites.</p><p>The economy and fickle housing market have slowed down progress especially for selling market-rate units. Meanwhile, CHA promised it would rehabilitate or redevelop 25,000 units for public housing families. For fiscal year 2014, CHA plans to deliver 562 public housing units, but none of them will be on mixed-income sites. Originally, the Plan for Transformation was a five-year plan. Today, it&rsquo;s supposed to be completed by 2015. That would mean the CHA would have to deliver a whopping 7,000 units by then.</p><p>Michael Merchant, former commissioner of the city Department of Buildings, is the new CEO.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. Email:&nbsp;<a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Mon, 18 Nov 2013 14:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-cha-ceo-woodyard-resigned-amid-sexual-harassment-allegations-109182 The problem that won't go away: Chicago's casting couches http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-10/problem-wont-go-away-chicagos-casting-couches-92862 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-10/castingcouch_flickr_davidcwong88.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As a member of the Association for Women Journalists–Chicago, I’m looking forward to its&nbsp;panel tomorrow night “Women in the Workplace–Yes, Sexual Harassment Still Exists.” The&nbsp;subject is one of those things, like race discrimination, that we like to think we’ve gotten past.&nbsp;But ask anyone in what the lawyers call “the protected class,” and you’ll hear quite a different&nbsp;story. This summer I watched an African-American friend struggle through a job search marked&nbsp;by sudden withdrawals of employer interest when he showed up for his interviews with black&nbsp;skin. Likewise, this spring I heard about the most blatant form of sexual harassment being&nbsp;practiced at one of Chicago’s Off-Loop theaters.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-10/castingcouch_flickr_davidcwong88.jpg" title="A casting couch on the curb (Flickr/davidcwong88)" width="500" height="372"></p><p style="text-align: left;"><br> Unsurprisingly, the victim was unwilling to risk her career by going public. It’s not just that the&nbsp;offender is in a position to control her ability to work at his theater; it’s that the very concept of a&nbsp;“casting couch” seems risible, making the complainant look–what is it they said about Anita&nbsp;Hill?&nbsp; “A little bit nutty and a little bit slutty”? Better to keep your mouth shut and somehow&nbsp;steer clear of that corner of the business.<br> <br> But it’s probably not just a corner of the business. Though sexual harassment is rarely as blatant&nbsp;as “Sleep with me or I’ll fire/won’t hire you,” most workplaces–and theater is no exception–are&nbsp;shot through with male bosses who are too friendly, male co-workers who are implacably hostile,&nbsp;and all the other symptoms of unchecked power to demean and intimidate women. And who has&nbsp;more unchecked power than a director in the midst of auditions?<br> <br> In other cities, where the acting corps isn’t so strong, it might be possible to detect the use of the&nbsp;casting couch. But with&nbsp;Chicago’s surplus of extremely capable actresses, no one in the audience will be any the wiser if&nbsp;the one who made it onstage had to make it backstage first.<br> <br> And yes, I’m perfectly aware that I’ve written as though women directors don’t abuse their power&nbsp;over male actors in this fashion.&nbsp; That’s because I don’t think they do, any more than women&nbsp;politicians send photos of their genitals to male constituents. In my experience, sexual&nbsp;harassment generally means harassment of women. If your experience is different–or if it’s the&nbsp;same, and you’re a woman who’s been subjected to sexual extortion or a hostile work&nbsp;environment in the theater–I heartily encourage you to share it at the AWJ panel and/or in the&nbsp;comments below; no names need be used.<br> <br> And if you’d just like to learn other women’s stories, and hear a panel of experts (a lawyer, a&nbsp;human resources professional and a psychologist) talk about how to handle the problem and&nbsp;make sure the bastard gets what he deserves, come join us at 6:30 tomorrow at the Chopin, 1543&nbsp;West Division. Register <a href="http://awj.camp8.org/events">here</a>.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 10 Oct 2011 14:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-10/problem-wont-go-away-chicagos-casting-couches-92862