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Ask Slashdot: Preempting Sexual Harassment In the Workplace?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the force-breeds-resistance dept.

Businesses 1127

zwei2stein writes "My team of about 10 men (IT guys) is expecting a new colleague: a female one. It is guaranteed that there will be remarks, double entendres and innuendos with huge potential of getting worse. We already have women in teams who can somehow handle this (and deliver apropriate verbal slaps). How would you deal with this? We talked about some simple, fun ways — anyone who [acts inappropriately] will have to wear an embarassing tie, etc. — instead of swear jar, having a sexual innuendo jar and even fairly harsh punishments (like people losing their bonuses for the month or their extra vaccation days). I'd like to figure out a solution that would be effective, not call much attention to itself, and not be quickly abandoned." What has your workplace done to create a good culture on this front? And what hasn't worked?

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1127 comments

It's called "Get A Grip!" (-1, Flamebait)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779613)

It's what normal, mature human beings do - they handle the situation themselves instead of crying fucking mental rape.

Re:It's called "Get A Grip!" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779707)

So the guy named "Tastecicles" is defending sexual harassment. Classy.

Re:It's called "Get A Grip!" (3, Funny)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779865)

What are you trying to imply, AC? Tastecicles is very classy.

P.S. I heard adult film producer's wife has big tits!

sincerely,
mister_playboy :D

Re:It's called "Get A Grip!" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40780057)

Wait til the bra-burning, moose-fucking suffragette hears of this

Re:It's called "Get A Grip!" (4, Funny)

durrr (1316311) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779753)

We had a very elegant solution.

We relocated the ladies to the kitchen and made sure they were gone by the time the men arrived to pick up their sandwhiches. That way our youthful male interns had to suffer no visual undressing by the old hags.

Re:It's called "Get A Grip!" (3, Interesting)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779861)

Yes, but this goes both ways. If an employee finds sexually orientated office banter offensive then you have to absolutely snip it in the bud, that's the thing lawsuits are made of. On the other hand, it's important that there's a friendly atmosphere where people aren't treading on egg shells. Write out a policy document, get everybody to sign it, and make sure every single person in the workplace knows who to go to if they have any problems. I've seen plenty of cases where a five minute chat sorted out a misunderstanding or somebody overstepping the line slightly. If people step beyond the boundaries of the law / your policy (whichever is the most restrictive of the two) then make sure you have a clearly defined disciplinary process in place going from an informal warning to immediate dismissal, and stick to it rigorously.

Re:It's called "Get A Grip!" (3, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779939)

You're right Tastecicles you ball loving sex-gimp. As you enjoy the taste of hairy man plums in your mouth, I am sure a mature human being yourself is well able to mentally handle the abuses of the many men who employ your services each day, as well as the laughter of the countless women who giggle in unison at the absurdity of your unmanly existence.

Now, read out that comment to yourself eight times a day for next six weeks and then come back to us about "crying fucking mental rape".

laws (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779621)

You need to understand the laws around sexual harassment, which you clearly do not.

Re:laws (5, Insightful)

crawling_chaos (23007) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779765)

Indeed. Simply put anything other than formal discipline leaves you open to huge legal penalties. For more details see a lawyer, because navigating harassment law without one is like asking the night janitor to fix bugs in your code.

Re:laws (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779779)

We do. So we just don't hire females. Not because they're female, of course, but because we always find a better qualified male. Not our fault.

Re:laws (4, Insightful)

Martin Blank (154261) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779791)

There's also a need to understand other aspects of the law. In some states, vacation days are considered wages and cannot be subtracted once awarded (though a reasonable cap can be applied). Bonuses can be revoked, but those "fairly harsh" ideas presented are handled at the HR level, and if it's reached that level, then the defense against a lawsuit is weak at best.

The best defense is to not go down that path to begin with, or failing that, find some maturity quickly.

Re:laws (5, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779867)

You need to understand the laws around sexual harassment, which you clearly do not.

We went through a couple sessions, mandated by management. We'll have another one in a few months. Key point to make is that people who do not act approrpiately will be pulled from the team and possibly sacked. Fear works pretty effectively.

Re:laws (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779875)

Here's a hint. Just because the law says something is or is not appropriate/right/etc doesn't mean that's the case everywhere. Here we have someone looking for an appropriate response to an expected situation rather than jumping right to ruining lives over an errant (or even misinterpreted) comment.

Re:laws (5, Insightful)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779925)

Yup. Making a "joke" of sexual harassment is a great way to lose a lawsuit. Just imagine the prosecuting lawyer: "So, rather than a sexual harassment policy you made people wear a silly tie?"

Re:laws (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about a year and a half ago | (#40780081)

This, 1000x this.

Making up a humourus punishment is acknowledging that something potentially illegal happened, and trying to institutionally laugh it off. You absolutely cannot do that. Not once. Not ever.

Imagine if this was physical abuse. And I have some personal experience with this, where an employee at our organization threw a phone at another employee. The *only* thing you do in that situation is call security and possibly for medical care to verify the extent of any injuries for insurance and legal purposes. You may also have to call the police if your security doesn't do that automatically. That employee was immediately terminated and no longer allowed on the premises.

if zwei2stein is the manager/supervisor anything like that he should be immediately replaced from that position. Before the female employee starts. Even suggesting that you might laugh off sexual harassment could itself be construed as a form of harassment depending on where you are.

It sucks when rules have to be written by lawyers, but company rules about dealing with sexual harassment have to be if not written by lawyers, approved by them, and basically all boil down to '0 tolerance'.

No swear jar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779629)

I've found at all workplaces a swear jar actually encourages the behavior as people feel they can make up for their actions with money. Don't do it unless everyone in the office enjoys crude talk.

Re:No swear jar (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779819)

monthly bonuses?!
vacation?!!!

Not another submission by someone from outside the US.

Re:No swear jar (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779909)

Kind of like Catholics and confession? At least the Catholics I know anyway. If you can just confess your sins away, there's no real incentive not to do them in the first place. Now if your swear jar is $80 a letter, that's another story.

Good grief... (5, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779633)

...It is guaranteed that there will be remarks, double entendres and innuendos with huge potential of getting worse...

So you work with a bunch of unprofessional animals?

You should *already* have a policy that makes such comments and such a work environment unacceptable.

Let them know that this type of childish behavior is not only unacceptable, but will result in being canned.

End of sentence.

Re:Good grief... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779761)

Seconded. Would they talk to each other this way? It doesn't matter if it's a woman or not, you don't harass (even jokingly) your peers, especially sexually. ("Fooling around" is fine, but again, would you say that to a male counterpart? If not, probably shouldn't say it to the female either.)

Also wearing a goofy tie or a "swear jar" seems like it would just "make light" of the harassment. Getting canned or reprimanded is more appropriate.

Re:Good grief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779943)

Yeah, making light of it in any way is a bad move. In our office our people have been sensible enough to only crack jokes at people that are in on the joking. If someone chimes in with a crack, they are welcome to be made fun of back. Just keep it within reasonable boundaries and know that if you step out of line something will be said to you.

Re:Good grief... (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779893)

Seriously. We don't do this at our company. Why is it "guaranteed" that is going to occur at yours?

Re:Good grief... (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779937)

...It is guaranteed that there will be remarks, double entendres and innuendos with huge potential of getting worse...

So you work with a bunch of unprofessional animals?

You should *already* have a policy that makes such comments and such a work environment unacceptable.

Let them know that this type of childish behavior is not only unacceptable, but will result in being canned.

End of sentence.

Third that. We've been through it.

I've had a role in someone's removal, due to innapropriate behaviour. We have policies in place and managers understand them. What I worried could have been a painful process was handled professionally and calm and order were restored to the workplace, further the feeling it is a safe workplace was reinforced.

Re:Good grief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779959)

This, a thousand times this. The parent is absolutely correct, if your team is so uncivilized that sexual harassment is likely to be such a big problem then they need to know they will be fired for bad behaviour. No "sexual harassment jar", no training, no ugly ties, they can and should be fired for harassing fellow co-workers.

Don't get me wrong, there is a difference between a friendly joke between co-workers and harassment. And sometimes that line can get blurred. In many cases, simply having one person say "Hey, that was over the line. Please don't do that again," will be enough. But anyone who is constantly pushing, constantly harassing, should be out on their ass so the grownups can get work done.

Re:Good grief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779987)

This + 1000.

OP: It should be a zero-tolerance policy. The offender should get fired, plain and simple. No punishments like wearing a dress for a week, handing the woman a dollar, etc. You're just making the situation worse.

Hire a trainer (5, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779635)

I am serious. From your post you are already over the line. A lawsuit is just one disgruntled employee away. Fix it and fast.

Re:Hire a trainer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779837)

What a sad world indeed. If guys behave this way in general, perhaps it's a problem with the legal system and not guys. Hyper-sensitivity it's just sickening. Now we have to pay a "professional" way too much money to tell people how to not act like human beings. So sorry I am a man and biologically driven to think about sex all the time, I'll bury it like you ask, that's probably going to work out in the end. Perhaps women shouldn't have been given a loaded gun called sexual harassment.

That being said, it is what it is, you better fix it, women can destroy your business and that is a sad state of affairs.

YOU DON"T HAVE THE RIGHT TO NOT BE OFFENDED, IF WE LET THIS GO ON WE ARE OPENING TO DOOR TO MORE NONSENSE.

Re:Hire a trainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40780015)

should further clarify, harassment is bad, my personal belief is that for the most part this should be a business issue and not a legal issue, that being said, sexual harassment is out of control and you must walk on egg shells.

Re:Hire a trainer (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40780069)

The office isn't the pub. It's a professional working environment where certain standards have to be maintained.

You may be lucky enough to hire someone that will give as good as they get, but you may hire someone who isn't. That's not their fault. They would have an expectation that they're joining a professional company, not a bunch of cowboys who can't control their mouths and sexism.

It's time for the OP's company to mature and grow up into a decent, open, friendly workplace where nobody feels that they are the victim of prejudice, bullying, etc.

A single female in a workplace of several mouthy sexist men is not going to feel comfortable.

Re:Hire a trainer (4, Insightful)

jjohnson (62583) | about a year and a half ago | (#40780083)

If guys behave this way in general, perhaps it's a problem with the legal system and not guys.

As most of the other posters in this thread have demonstrated, guys don't behave this way in general. It's just not that difficult to leave a lot of sexual innuendo and horseplay out of a workplace. This isn't about paying someone to tell you how not to act like human beings--that's just an excuse for not doing anything about sloppy behaviour.

If you're such a sad, immature specimen that you just can't help bringing sex into every conversation and situation, that's your damage, not society's.

and talk to a lawyer regarding employment law (4, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779887)

And talk to a lawyer specializing in employment law regarding remedies and responses to inappropriate actions. Messing with someone's vacation days may be illegal. You don't want your remedies creating more opportunities to get sued.

Re:Hire a trainer (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779957)

the hat thing made me think that this entire post is a joke.
sexual inuendo jar? what the fuck? they're going to call spanish inquisition to visit too? they're making it such a big deal that just making such a big deal about it is going to constitute as bullying the poor gal!

like, are they going to have a meeting where they discuss what's an appropriate "fine" for comments regarding her fine butt? and what kind of hat should the one wear who tries to peek under her skirt? LIKE WHAT THE FUCK? it seems that the guys have already planned and made empty boasts about harasssing, since they're planning for the inevitability that it happens and ends badly.

and I'm no playboy either or super sociable with women but these guys seem like they really, really need to get out more. chances are the woman joining their workplace is going to wipe the floor with them anyways, she's going to get them to do _anything_ she wants - which might not be what she wants from her job.

even watching two seasons of Friends would constitute probably as training for the guy even planning this kind of clusterfuck(not in the literal sense).

WooHoo! First post (5, Funny)

Thorodin (1999352) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779637)

I work in a small IT department with women (it's about 5 men, 3 women). We don't have any issues with harassment. But, then again, we are all over 21 years of age.

Say little to nothing (1)

sarysa (1089739) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779651)

If you overdo it, people will get paranoid and generally avoid this woman. Also, are you really expecting a large amount of sexual harassment? Where is this business located? I've never gotten grief from coworkers and I'm in the bay area...

This article is a troll, market research or w/e... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779671)

I have a hard time believing the submitter has a serious question.

Don't hire children. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779675)

Hire mature adults who don't feel the need to marginalize women instead of manchildren?

Harassment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779677)

I work with women everyday. Treat them with respect. Innuendo has no purpose at the workplace and should be treated as no less than harassment. I would recommend taking what policy you have for harassment and applying it to sexual harassment.

The only thing you can do (4, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779679)

is to hire people whom you can trust to behave like adults. Seems like you have no trust in your team if you need to resort to petty punishments like these, which is a bigger problem.

Crazy suggestion (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779683)

Have whoever is in charge tell them to grow the fuck up and act like goddamn professionals, or they'll be up for disciplinary. Any kind of "jokey" punishment will sound like a slap on the wrist if the staff member feels genuinely insulted or belittled.

Throw PC out the window (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779685)

The solution is to throw political correctness out the window. Humans will be humans. Men will be men. Women will be women.

If women can't handle being hit on and joked about by men then they shouldn't be in the workplace to begin with.

If the men can't keep it within reason, they shouldn't have been hired because they're scumbags as it is.

If you feel the need to put out a bad boy jar, then reevaluate your hiring practices, idiot.

Preparing the Inquisition already? (5, Insightful)

bigrat (25898) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779701)

If you have so little confidence in your crew, why are they still working for you?

Generally speaking, most professional men above the age of 20 that are managed properly will behave properly. The fact that you feel your crew will not behave properly speaks volumes about your management.

This little set of "exercises" you have planned seems like a witch hunt - something you do when you need a scapegoat. I'm glad I don't work with you.

Why would this be a problem? (1)

mr_zonules (896518) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779705)

If your workers are a-holes, chauvinists or otherwise would do this -- it sounds like you need a new crew. There are KAJILLIONS of good-natured, smart, talented, hard-working men and women that are more than capable. If I were in your shoes, I would fire anyone that I would even suspect before the fact that would be have even a remote chance of a problem with this. This is 2012, not 1962.

Make Fridays, Clothing Optional (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779719)

And we'll see who laughs at whom.

Preemptive Humor (4, Interesting)

FallSe7en (2101132) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779721)

This reminds me of that one scene in the trailer for the new movie coming out "Pitch Perfect". Some girl is going to try out for this singing group and she introduces herself as "Fat Amy". The other girls snigger at this and ask her "You call yourself Fat Amy?" To this, Fat Amy replies, "Yeah, so bitches like you don't do it behind my back."

Is this a joke? (5, Interesting)

CMiYC (6473) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779723)

"We talked about some simple, fun ways — anyone who [acts inappropriately] will have to wear an embarassing tie, etc. — instead of swear jar, having a sexual innuendo jar and even fairly harsh punishments (like people losing their bonuses for the month or their extra vaccation days)"

Any acts which would result in these embarrassments are terminal offenses. Then on top of these, these acts could be considered terminal harassment themselves.

You have serious problems if your polices are already unenforceable.

Kind of missing the point. (1)

Bovius (1243040) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779727)

This sounds like a "5 to 10% tolerance" policy instead of a zero tolerance policy. Maybe I'm just overreacting, but anything that suggests to the guys that sexual harassment is just kind of wrong is missing the point.

Here's an idea: Get some fun, simple ideas for a solution from a group of women. That should get you pointed in the right direction.

--Respectfully written by a dude

As an IT manager who hired the team's 1st woman... (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779737)

We had none of this garbage. None. I knew I didn't even have to say a word to my guys...why? Because we're all adults and professionals and we know better than to do that shit.

Listen, it's 2012 and almost every single one of your employees has been through some sort of mandatory sexual harassment training at some point in their careers. If you have someone who hasn't (recent college grad with no other work history or an intern or something) pull them aside and handle it.

If this is an issue w/your staff, you should make some other changes, not just the woman you brought on board.

Policy Enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779739)

Surely there is already a company policy on sexual harassment. Enforcing this policy is on the shoulders of the offender's manager. The new employee should know that she can complain to her manager, who can pass the complaint to the offender's manager, who will enforce policy, whether it be suspension, termination, etc.

Get the managers on board. If they are cooperative, they can control the situation themselves.

Pardon Me (4, Insightful)

carrier lost (222597) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779745)

It is guaranteed that there will be remarks...

What the hell?

Are you all twelve or are some of you thirteen yet?

Get off my lawn and take your adolescent misogyny with you!

As a lawyer, let me tell you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779751)

You are opening yourself up to a very, very expensive suit if you don't do more about the issue than mandating "harrassment ties."

Re:As a lawyer, let me tell you... (1)

chris.alex.thomas (1718644) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779897)

well, I'm a doctor and I can tell you it's perfectly normal adult interaction, but thats just my medical opinion.....

a 'fun' way sounds like a bad idea (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779755)

some simple, fun ways — anyone who [acts inappropriately] will have to wear an embarassing tie, etc. — instead of swear jar, having a sexual innuendo jar

This does not sound like a good idea to me. It makes it seem like some kind of American college comedy film, where you wink and tsk tsk the naughty fratboys for their inevitable innuendos and they smirk and promise to behave better.

How about just making it clear to any employees that they're expected to act professionally with their colleagues of any race/gender/age/whatever?

2 things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779759)

1) Don't hire immature people that can't/won't control themselves appropriately for the situation

2) Don't hire women who can't/won't tolerate working with men, who will sometimes say and do things that are not lady-like.

Geek jokes are allowed, harassment is not (5, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779769)

Our small office is actually almost half female these days. Three of us are techs, two are admins. We have a comfortable relationship with the guys because we're all geeks, and our geekiness trumps any awkwardness from male/female interactions. Light teasing is permitted, but personal relationship discussions are off limits. We generally try to keep all our jokes strictly to IT, nerdliness, and our clients' baffling behavior. We all also wear the same uniform, so the only personal expression the ladies get is earrings and nail polish. (No skirts or heels allowed.) This dress code prevents a lot of harassment, I think. (I know I wouldn't want to have to drag patch cables across the floor in a skirt...)

Why did you wait? (2)

s.petry (762400) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779771)

If you have employees I'm really surprised this has never come up until you hired a female. Your company has, or the guys working there have, no contact with females at all? Search on line for HR material and get it out quickly so you don't end up in court, or having to fire 10 guys for hooting at the new coworker. Search for Business Ethics training materials, you will come up with quite a bit.

Let this be a lesson also. If you own a business, there should be policies and statements in place as quickly as possible for all of these types of common legal issues. "No pr0n at work", "don't print pr0n" on your printers, equality in the work place, 0 tolerance for discrimination, etc.. etc... Even a small business with 1-2 people should have this.

Very real consequences (3, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779775)

The tie and "swear jar" are fun ideas, but sexual harassment lawsuits are no laughing matter. Careers have been ruined in both directions and companies a lot in both legal expenses as well as reputability. I would suggest telling those "10 guys" to grow up or gtfo.

Easy (0)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779785)

Hire people who are not looking for an excuse to sue your company and receive a huge settlement check. People make jokes, women just as much as men. If someone cannot handle an awkward situations, tell them to design webpages in their basement.

Hiring.. (1, Insightful)

lionchild (581331) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779787)

Hire someone because they fit the group and either have technical skills, or are capable of learning them... If they have all the best skills, but don't fit in the group, they're not the right hire. You can train skills, you can't train them to be happy and functional in an existing group.

Young... more like older (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779795)

I would bet that its the IT "professionals" that are older that are more likely to use the inappropriate remarks as it was more acceptable in their time and not as much with newer generations. That at least has been my experience... younger IT people coming on seem to be more educated about such things being unprofessional.

Re:Young... more like older (1)

plopez (54068) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779935)

Or the testosterone driven 20 somethings who grew up listening to music about bitches and 'hoes.

Fer crying out loud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779825)

These people are supposed to be professionals, they should act like one! You are in a professional environment, not the YMCA locker room. I'm glad you are concerned, that shows sensitivity and foresight, if you expect your people to be professionals they should be able to rise to the challenge or find another employer.

constant reminders (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779829)

Just constantly remind all the men (all men, not just those you work with) that they are just women that wear their vaginas inside-out. /sarcasm

Or, fucking deal with like a man, because that's what this is really about. You want men to act like women, and you will be a lot happier in life when you let go of chasing that dragon.

Cover up your body (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779845)

Avoid wearing skimpy or otherwise revealing clothing, otherwise you are just asking to be harassed.

Only hire the ugly. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779853)

Sending a beautiful woman into the midst of a bunch of desperate IT guys is just asking for a lawsuit.... one with details so disturbing your business will wish it was Penn State. If you've got to meet some quota, find a girl with excessive body hair and a suspicious aroma and just hope your boys don't start filing harassment complaints.

Bad news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779859)

Very often, it is advisable to leave a poisoned work environment. I have heard story after story about people who have been harassed and who have been punished for complaining.

The latest one is an RCMP officer whose sergeant was sexually harassing her. She complained. Nothing. She quit and filed a lawsuit. The government of Canada is putting on a full court press in the media to make her look like a problem employee.

Management doesn't want to deal with this kind of thing. If the harasser is a manager, management almost always sides with the harasser. The victim suffers a lot.

Bottom line: Bail out if you can.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/05/10/bc-rcmp-harassment-galliford-sulz.html [www.cbc.ca]

WTF? (4, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779863)

Why doesn't your company already have policies in place on this, and why don't you hire employees who know how to act like adults?

keep it simple (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779877)

Tell them to not be disrespectful morons, and if they are, they'll be fired. As they would be if they engaged in any other type of behavior that could result in lawsuits against the company (and themselves). You shouldn't have to make a game out of it with rewards and demerits just so that you can hopefully say at the end of the day, "You acted like a reasonable, decent human being towards another person! Hooray!"

If anything, setting up some sort of elaborate monitoring and rewards scheme for 10 male employees in a department just so the 1 female doesn't feel harassed seems to be a horrible way of trying to make the new person feel welcome and a real part of the group. If one of them is going to act like a frakwit, fire him and get someone who won't. There are plenty of people out there still looking for work, and some of them will actually even know how to function in society.

Be prepared to fire people over this (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779881)

1. Create a policy, in writing, about what is and what is not acceptable behavior in the workplace when it comes to sexual harassment.
2. If somebody violates that policy, reprimand them privately at first, and then publicly if they still don't get it. And keep a record of doing that.
3. If somebody continues to violate the policy, fire them.
If you're not willing to fire people to make a non-harassing culture happen, then you aren't really serious about putting a stop to it. And these are exactly the kind of steps you need to have taken if your company gets sued over your guys' behavior.

Some other things you can do:
1. Lead by example. Treat her like a professional, because that's what she is. Treat your guys the same way if you aren't already, and make it clear that you expect them to act the same way. When you're working, you're working, not hanging out with your buddies at the bar.
2. Nip it in the bud. Don't wait for the second comment, or there will be a third.
3. Make it clear that you're putting a stop to it because if you don't, your boss will (They should back you up on this, if they don't give up, it's a lost cause)
4. Tell 'em (truthfully) you may be able to loosen things up if things go well at first. If your new employee makes it totally clear that she's fine with this sort of thing, then you can let the guys go with it.

IANAL, TINLA, etc.

Lawyercat is ready (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779883)

If there's anything obviously inappropriate, or physical, sure, make it punished.

After all if you did that anywhere public, it'd be considered lewd behaviour.

But as long as it's just between team members, who cares about funny jokes:)

The world has become so damn intolerant with ANYTHING that might remotely offend anyone.
  Grow a spine people.

There's nothing wrong about difference, we are not EQUAL, and laughing about it as long as it's not specifically targeted and/or with associated ill intents. Equality is about realizing our differences.

Doing racist jokes is okay if you do them against every race for laughs!

Same with sexist jokes, mock guys, mock girls, who cares as long as it's not clearly aggressive.

Oh wait... USA courts...
 
the place where brains are removed and replaced by lawyercats references...

Whoa boy! (4, Insightful)

matunos (1587263) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779889)

Your "simple, fun ways" are going to get you into hot water. By doing that, you're basically encouraging such behavior by turning something from inappropriate behavior to behavior that's okay as long as you're willing to wear a funny tie.

You talk about your team, so I assume you're in a larger organization. That organization most likely has some HR representation, so I suggest you talk to them about what the baseline rules and laws are. I'm surprised your company hasn't already had some sort of mandatory training (training which I tend to think is just relaying common sense, but based on your write up, I'm not sure in your team's case).

For the grey areas not covered by those rules, why don't you go discuss with the other women you mention to learn their experiences? Double entendres and the like are not necessarily harassment/hostile work environment, but it depends on how they're played. If they're all being directed at the female team member, then yeah, you're probably asking for trouble.

Besides the typical "just don't do it" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779901)

We actually have a swear jar at my IT job currently. Swearing, sexual innuendo, also missing any punches on your timesheet result in a $0.25 fine per offense. At the end of the year the money is doubled by the VP and we buy presents for the Angel Tree at Christmas. Last year's was around $200 before the doubling by the VP. This year it's looking quite a bit lower since everyone was sick of getting harassed to put in another quarter.

Identify the problem (5, Interesting)

swm (171547) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779903)

Make sure you have identified the problem correctly. It may not be sexual harassment per-se.

In Is There Anything Good About Men? [fsu.edu], Roy F. Baumeister writes

All-male groups tend to be marked by putdowns and other practices that remind everybody that there is NOT enough respect to go around,because this awareness motivates each man to try harder to earn respect. This, incidentally, has probably been a major source of friction as women have moved into the workplace, and organizations have had to shift toward policies that everyone is entitled to respect. The men hadn’t originally built them to respect everybody.

embarrassing tie?! (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779905)

You are proposing frat boy solutions to a frat boy problem.

It's easy: dont turn it into a frat boy game. Just say once, seriously, before the new employee starts: "I noticed the innuendo around here. It's not funny. Do it once, get a warning. Do it twice, get fired."

And then actually do that.

Sexual harassment isn't funny. Of course the frat boys will say it's just a little fun, no harm intended. Thats the problem.

Act Professionally and this won't become an issue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779927)

It's called "not being a sexist wanker".
It's similar to the concept of "not being a racist tosser".

And you should fire immediately anybody that says "it's just banter".

dismissal and legal action (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779945)

Start with posters in the coffee room"
"At , respect means having an environment free of harassment or discrimination."

That set's the expectation.

Also, send around a policy statement that mentions that dismissal and possible legal action are the consequences of harassing behavior.
Doesn't your state have laws about this, that could be mentioned in the policy?
Of course, you have to mean it. If not, that's your issue, not your employees'.

Problem not correctly identified (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779947)

"It is guaranteed that there will be remarks, double entendres and innuendos"

There's your problem. Fix your team's mindset, not how to punish infractions that one assumes "must" happen.

Err... (1)

Lithdren (605362) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779949)

I know what you could try.

You could try growing up, and if that doesn't work, fire someone over it.

"Haha, Bob is sexually herassing Martha (again!), time for the tie of shame! Hahahaha..."
"Time for a lawsuit..."

Use your existing resource (1)

hessian (467078) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779967)

You say there are already women in the workplace who know how to handle this behavior.

Have the new woman consult with these women.

Then, go tell the men what exactly (but anonymously) these women thought about the behavior.

I'm sure the term "third grade behavior" will come up somewhere.

Hostile Work Environment (5, Informative)

jeko (179919) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779977)

It is guaranteed that there will be remarks, double entendres and innuendos with huge potential of getting worse.

Hostile Work Environment [fcc.gov]:
"Hostile work environment harassment occurs when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex, race or other legally protected characteristics unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Anyone in the workplace might commit this type of harassment – a management official, co-worker, or non-employee, such as a contractor, vendor or guest. The victim can be anyone affected by the conduct, not just the individual at whom the offensive conduct is directed.

Examples of actions that may create sexual hostile environment harassment include:
- Leering, i.e., staring in a sexually suggestive manner
- Making offensive remarks about looks, clothing, body parts
- Touching in a way that may make an employee feel uncomfortable, such as patting, pinching or intentional brushing against another’s body
- Telling sexual or lewd jokes, hanging sexual posters, making sexual gestures, etc.
- Sending, forwarding or soliciting sexually suggestive letters, notes, emails, or images"

Somewhere, a labor law attorney is locking and loading his briefcase... :-)

This question just pisses me off (5, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779981)

A female colleague just joined our team a few months back (previously all male). Know what we did to prepare? Nothing. Because we are all adults and knowwhat's appropriate in the workplace. The innuendo didn't exist before she joined and it sure as hell didn't start after.

You want to prevent it? Don't fucking do it, and don't accept it when anyone else does. Certainly don't treat it like a game or accept that it is inevitable.

Companies like yours are the ones that give the media ammunition when they want to dig up crap about gender discrimination in the IT/IS world.

tl;dr -you're all big boys now and should damn well know what's acceptable behavior.

Whoa (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40779989)

> "It is guaranteed that there will be remarks, double entendres and innuendos "

If that's the kind of workplace you're fostering, I wouldn't want to work there. You recruit the best talent by having a comfortable environment for everyone. Not a prudish one, but a professional one. Inappropriate remarks, double entendres, and innuendoes have a term- sexual harassment. It should be dealt with with discipline, up to and including termination, depending on the offense. Otherwise, prepare for a multi-million-dollar lawsuit that will prevail in any court system.

If you foster an environment where you're not welcoming to visible minorities (women), I'd hate to think what it'd be like to be an invisible minority (different sexual orientation, religion, etc.).

What kind of people work there? (5, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779997)

It is guaranteed that there will be remarks, double entendres and innuendos with huge potential of getting worse.

As a male, I would not want to work with those people. Your company has a personnel problem well beyond what you think it is.

Do a culture evaluation (2)

pestilence669 (823950) | about a year and a half ago | (#40779999)

I guess my advice is to avoid litigious people at all costs. You can sue for anything these days. You can't tell a joke, give a high five or even kiss your wife on the cheek (someone i worked with actually invoked sexual harassment for this) without pissing someone off. I say: let these people work elsewhere. I like dropping the f-bomb and being sexist & crude, as do my peers. We band together in a mutual agreement not to spoil the freedom for everyone.

be adult about it (0)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year and a half ago | (#40780007)

let your new female coworker set the tone. If she does not mind the jokes (or she starts the jokes herself) then you don't have to worry about it unless somebody gets drunk and goes out into left field.

but anywho i would say that you need to put out word that the first GUY to crack a joke gets to dress up as a French Maid for the day (or as a Chipendale Dancer depending on what She wants).

Want it to stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40780009)

How about dismissal?
One firing goes a long way in getting attention.

IAAL, imagining a deposition... (5, Insightful)

Whatsthiswhatsthis (466781) | about a year and a half ago | (#40780029)

IAAL, and I'm imagining the deposition in a hypothetical (inevitable?) sexual harassment suit. Q: Were you, as a supervisor, aware of any sexual harassment at the workplace? A: No. Q: Did you have a "sexual harassment jar"? A: Yes. Q: And what was the purpose of the sexual harassment jar? A: To curb employee sexual harassment. Every time someone said something that could be sexual or suggestive, they'd have to put a dollar in the jar. Q: And how much money was eventually contributed to the jar? A: The last time I cleaned it out, it had $562. Q: So let me ask you again, were you aware of any sexual harassment at the workplace?

Role reversal (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | about a year and a half ago | (#40780037)

I work for a company where the majority of IT pros are women, including the director. Needless to say we don't have a problem with sexual harassment since the ratio of women to men is something like 4:1. We're also fully matured adults who come to work to make a living, not to play mind games with people who are extremely intelligent and not about to take any foolishness from some horny male who can't think because he's got his dick in hand most of the time.

You're headed for a world of legal grief if you clowns don't grow up and can the Mad Men-style harassment.

what is work place sex har these days/// (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40780039)

the old commercials made it seem like sexual harassment was something like 'your boss boss wants you to dress skimpy for work or your fired', now jokes are over the line? i swear you give these bitches an inch...

One solution (1)

hackula (2596247) | about a year and a half ago | (#40780055)

Fire employees who harass other employees. If you want to be slack about it then let them know the policy before they throw their job away. Harassment is unacc-fucking-eptable, end of story. Feel free to ignore this, however, and receive a massive law suit.
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