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Sharon Bialek is the fourth woman to accuse GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment. Accompanied by attorney Gloria Allred, she held a press conference this morning and told the following story.
In 1997, Bialek was employed by the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) education foundation. At this time, Herman Cain was the NRA's president. Just prior to the incident, Bialek alleges that Cain offered to help her find a job with a state restaurant association.
As they sat in a car, he allegedly his hand under her skirt and pulled her head toward his crotch. When she objected, he said, "You want a job, right?"
Can Sharon Bialek sue for this alleged sexual harassment?
No, she can't.
The statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims vary by jurisdiction. But, by any measure, the statute of limitations has run out for Bialek -- she waited too long.
Sharon Bialek is accusing Herman Cain of "quid pro quo" sexual harassment. "Quid pro quo," which means "this for that," is a type of sexual bribery. It occurs when a job benefit is tied to an employee's willingness to accept, tolerate or partake in unwanted sexual conduct.
This kind of sexual harassment can occur when an employee is promised a promotion in exchange for sexual contact. It can also occur when an employee is allowed to retain her job only if she tolerates constant sexual innuendo.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment can also lead to charges of gender discrimination, as it makes gender a condition of employment. The victim's qualified co-workers are denied a benefit because they are not of the supervisor's preferred gender.
Herman Cain, for his part, has repeatedly denied sexually harassing anyone, ever. He has yet to respond to Bialek's request that he "come clean."
Though Sharon Bialek has alleged illegal quid pro quo behavior, she still can't sue Herman Cain for sexual harassment. Going public was her last remaining option.