Librarians Win EEOC Protection from Pornography
Price, Joyce Howard, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found probable cause that a dozen Minneapolis librarians were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment triggered by pornography on the Internet.
The discrimination ruling, which the EEOC made Thursday, came after a complaint the librarians brought last month against the Minneapolis Central Library, where they all work.
The 12 librarians - 11 women and one man - accused the library of being a "hostile, offensive, palpably unlawful working environment," where images of sex, child pornography and child rape were routine, as were incidents of fondling by some library patrons at computers.
"The library has until June 4 to respond [to the EEOC findings]. If they don't, I guess the EEOC will ask the Justice Department to bring a lawsuit," Robert S. Halagan, attorney for the librarians, said in a telephone interview.
He acknowledged the library already has taken some steps to improve the conditions at the Minneapolis library.
"The situation there was undoubtedly the worst of any public library in the country. These were not just complaints about pictures on a screen," the lawyer said.
"There was a whole range of [offensive] behaviors that went on. The library has 30 computers, and, at any given time, 25 of them were manned by guys in trenchcoats," he said.
And despite complaints from the librarians and parents of children who use the library, Mr. Halagan said, "The library chose to do nothing for three years."
The EEOC's opinion was hailed by the Family Research Council (FRC), which put much of the blame for the conditions at the Minneapolis Central Library on the American Library Association. The FRC said in a statement that the library group "promotes unrestricted access by anyone, regardless of age, to all of the materials available on the Internet regardless of content, including the most deviant pornography."
An ALA official yesterday declined to say whether that represented a correct interpretation of the organization's position.
"We knew it was just a matter of time before some dedicated librarians would stand up to the American Library Association and rescue their library. …