Meanwhile, Steer Clear of Hotel Rooms

As a member of the work force described in the opinion-page article ``Flexible, Nontraditional - and Unprotected,'' April 28, I am writing with an interim solution to the lack of legal protection: Protect yourself.

Nobody deserves to be harassed, but there would be far fewer incidents if men and women lived by one simple truth: Life isn't fair. I learned this lesson after interviewing with an international copying company. The hiring manager, a man I had just met, interviewed me for one hour - in his hotel room. Fortunately, no harm was done, and the business relationship soon ended.

Had I been harassed, or had he been unjustly accused, the question put to each of us would have been, ``Why did you interview someone of the opposite sex in a hotel room?'' Legal protection or no legal protection, I will never put myself in that uncomfortable, compromising situation again. Most male employers I know would say the same thing.

Harassment and discrimination should be punishable by law. That they aren't in some cases, as the article demonstrated, makes self-protection imperative. If we wait for laws to protect us while denying our own power to protect ourselves, we will be committing the biggest crime of all.

Also, the accompanying illustration, depicting a man leering at an obviously frightened woman, suggests that men are always evil and women are always helpless.

Perpetuating these stereotypes does nothing to promote harmony between the sexes, particularly in the microcosm of the workplace. Gina DeLapa, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

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