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Last week, titillating reports emerged about the sexually-charged atmosphere in the office of New York State Assemblyman Vito Lopez, including his preference that his female employees not wear bras to work. Two women recently filed complaints against Lopez for sexual harassment, and the Assembly released a letter in which it reported on the resolution of the women’s claims. The Ethics Committee censured Lopez, stripped him of his committee chairmanship, and barred him from hiring interns or employees under the age of 21. ...

Meanwhile, Chrysler, the auto giant, ought to be asking itself the same question, as it writes a check for the $3.5 million punitive damage verdict that was just reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in a racial harassment case, May v. Chrysler.

In this column, I’ll ask a key question: Are there lessons for other employers in the cases against Lopez and Chrysler?