Have Harassment Polices Gone Too Far?

 

businesswoman suffering work sexual harassment and abuse of boss

I’m on social media, specifically Twitter. There are occasions when I see tweets about women being angry with men, in general. It’s historical, as far as I am able to determine: Hoe poorly women were treated in the past, and then today, how much they have to put up with in the workplace as to sexual harassment. I can’t speak for the past, because I didn’t live until the mid-20th century. I can say that presently, yes, there are places where women are still discriminated against. I’ve actually witnessed it. I’ve also witnessed where women, who were in power, harassed men. Yes, I am one of those.

This is not a whataboutism post, I’m not declaring that men are harassed as much as women, Not by far. what I am saying is that if we look, in the workplace, the numbers of sexual harassment filings within any company, we’ll find there is a magnitude more against men than there are against women. Why is that? I know that the two or three times I thought I was inappropriately approached, by a female supervisor, I just put it off to this person being, well, uncomfortable or just clumsy around me. One woman, a Sr. Program Manager at a company I used to work for, once told me, “You’re looking really good today. Now if we could just get you out of those jeans.” Of course, what she meant, was that she’d prefer if I wore slacks to work instead of jeans. But think about that by itself, without context I just provided.

It’s come to the point in corporate America where if a woman looks nice that day, by what’s she’s wearing, that it may lead to a sexual harassment charge. So what do men do? We say “Good morning”, or whatever and that’s about it. Want to mentor a woman that has potential to rise in the company/ Be careful about being alone with her because it’s possible you may make what she considers an inappropriate statement.  So women are no complaining that their male supervisors/senior management will not help advance their careers. That’s a shame. I’ve worked with both men and womwn who were top-notch and for anyone to fear that they may be accused of inappropriate behavior, is what holds everyone back.

Why am /i writing about this? Just today, a friend, someone I’ve known for several years and respect immensely, was accused of sexual harassment today. She has been accused of inappropriate touching (placing her hand on a male subordinates shoulder), as well as comments which she of course denies making. It may cause her to be fired and she was, as anyone may take, upset by the charges against her.

I think we’ve gone too far. I’m not saying there aren’t real instances of sexual harassment, which need be dealt with severely by companies, but we also need to take a step back and take a look a policies which today, punish those for what used to be considered as just being friendly.

3 thoughts on “Have Harassment Polices Gone Too Far?

  1. Your example about not being able to tell a co-worker (regardless of gender) that they look nice is one that still fascinates me. It wasn’t long ago that compliments like this were commonplace. They are now classified as inappropriate. The last couple of mandatory sexual harassment trainings to which I was subjected addressed them repeatedly. The rationale seems to be that they draw undue attention to someone’s physical appearance and that this is problematic, regardless of intent. And so, I no longer indicate that I notice anyone’s attire, new hairstyle, and so on. It makes for some extremely awkward conversations, but I suppose this is the new normal.

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  2. Maybe the guy in the photo thought the person sitting was just another guy or a female who identified as a guy and wanted to be just one of the guys. I mean…the person is dressed like a guy instead of a gal. If a guy boss or the other guys at work don’t pick up on that and treat this person as a guy, is that gender harassment/insensitivity? In which case, is the guy boss a predatory gay man when he puts his hand on the trans person’s shoulder or just being a guy?

    I won’t stop touching or hugging or holding people’s hands or helping them if I think they could use some help, nor will I stop complementing men and women on their appearance. I won’t stop being me, but I only work on a farm. Still…I could get in trouble with the chicken catchers or with my service tech or with the feed delivery man if I complemented clothing, hairstyle, new shoes, I guess. Most of us have too much else to do and worry about than whether or not a complement is sexual harassment.

    I was “inappropriately treated” by men when I worked at various places pre-farm, but I did not consider any occasion to rise to the level of sexual harassment and none of the times made me feel unsafe or disrespected or want to sue. I have also “inappropriately treated” men with whom I worked in a similar manner. Some degree of non-threatening sexual flirtation among adults seems okay to me.

    I am not okay with true sexual harassment by any person. But really, are three adults at work or not? I agree, Jim, it has gone way beyond reasonable and is approaching dangerous for people to interact at all in ways that most of us consider normal. And…guilt is assigned, not proven lawfully. Victim-class citizens are to be believed and not questioned. And…usually the whole thing is played out on social media, with the Twitter Mob being judge, jury and executioner.

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    • I don’t know that most people care unless the approach is easily determined to be sexual in nature. I know of a case, just a few years ago where I worked at the time that a man was reported for complementing a woman co-worker, but by someone that wasn’t in the conversation, just happened to be walking by and heard the “inappropriate” compliment. Of course, there was an “investigation” and the woman in question, the one complimented, said she was not offended and didn’t understand how this had become reported. It did later come out, but it’s an example that someone not even part of a conversation, or someone that doesn’t know of the relationship (friendship) between 2 people may cause inadvertent trouble.

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