The evolution of sexual harassment awareness
3. Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill
Clarence Thomas’s confirmation to the US Supreme Court seemed assured until a report of an FBI interview with former assistant Anita Hill was leaked to the press. Ms. Hill testified at Mr. Thomas's confirmation hearings in 1991 that, after she declined to see him socially, he began making sexually suggestive remarks to her that made her uncomfortable. Thomas denied the allegations.
While Hill’s accusations ultimately did not prevent Thomas from becoming a Supreme Court justice, workplace rights experts say the episode brought the topic of sexual harassment into everyday conversation, inspiring much debate about what kind of talk and behavior is inappropriate in the workplace.
Soon after Thomas was confirmed, Congress passed a law giving sexual harassment victims the right to seek federal damages, back pay, and reinstatement – a bill that President George H.W. Bush had initially opposed.