How To Handle Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
What are your rights in the workplace and what to do in a particular situation?
- Duration 11:07
- Date Nov 10, 2011
What are your rights in the workplace and what to do in a particular situation?
Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
When you are ahead of the HR for a large corporation no doubt all sorts of issues come across your desk and among them.
Both with victims who are alleged to be well they're not allegedly male or female -- -- victims who are male and female.
And you hear all sorts of things you better be able to explain.
What exactly harassment is in the workplace and specific to some of the breaking news this last week what sexual harassment is.
To talk about that is Gregory.
Human resources officer for Dow Jones to the Wall Street.
Journal Wall Street Journal's part of yeah -- this -- the -- you think anyway good to have you you know you're one of my favorites.
By the way it's Greg GA -- -- -- more cheese that you can imagine it's liable tweeted out so you've got -- want to follow him on Twitter you always have such great ideas.
-- for workplace issues and having good interviews and so on and so forth this morning that we're gonna talk a tough topic.
That's in the news primarily because -- -- GOP presidential candidate running right now who has women coming out of the woodwork.
Some of them are our public.
Others of them or not it yet.
Alleging sexual harassment what is a working definition for sexual harassment.
There are few workplace issues that are more serious more sensitive but also more ambiguous which makes it very difficult then the issue of sexual harassment.
Simply -- sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances.
Inappropriate comments requests for sexual favors that create a hostile work environment.
So when you talk about what a hostile work environment is.
And what really constitutes sexual -- harassment he can vary from workplace to workplace depending on the culture of the workplace.
And win the ambiguity comes and are they comments that are isolated that are -- that are pervasive and that's where the difficulty comes there.
Everyone knows the traditional stereotypical.
You have a supervisor there.
Who request sexual favors from a subordinate and if -- subordinate doesn't.
I'm acquiesce to those requests then they lose their job or they don't get a promotion or they suffer some other adverse employment action.
That's an obvious sexual harassment.
Less obvious are the ones that are not as overt and that's really what goes on in most.
When it happens it certainly doesn't want -- -- most workplaces but what happens it's it's much less over an -- You've got some examples and we can put this on the screen sexual innuendoes and a lot of people told jokes in the workplace.
You know an -- -- can be pretty rough and tumble places to work I mean I hear the F bomb -- its offensive but it's usually not a super.
You know yeah but we've gone through these long courses here work and -- something makes you feel uncomfortable you speak up.
And and it's very effective because a lot of times people don't even realize that they're offending you.
How do you handle a sexual innuendo and -- if -- got us to put up on the screen I'd love to see it.
I would have to type out.
Are okay -- how they weren't there can spell -- -- -- -- anyway co -- to another after an interview -- that is good for -- was it was for me.
Now I mean -- Right so it's OK let's talk about innuendoes in general innuendoes in general.
I have contacts anything can be made to sound completely innocent.
-- are being made to sound completely suggested.
So it really is that depends on the relationship between the two people it depends on how it said it depends on the contacts.
But the -- very clear about this.
Isolated incidents that are very serious.
Offhand comments and teasing is not illegal now in -- you -- -- issue is not.
Game it's an offhand.
If it's isolated.
If it's teens being and it's not very serious.
Then that's not a legal and what we know what they think is one man experience is another man's not closer -- that's where the ambiguity comes.
And and how serious.
The comment is it -- certainly can be.
One isolated incident that is so serious that merits.
-- jumps in termination immediately.
There are other isolated incidents that it's just two people who had a misunderstanding.
And the person who made the comment recognizes that it offended the other person can -- really apologetic.
And that kind of behavior never happens again they haven't been accused of that before you noted in a file or something like that.
If you don't need every single conversation between two employees in the workplace in a file that's all you be doing all they won't have.
I have to remember Harris it's what will happen.
Number is that the lies and learn the workplace has become our social places where we need to make friends it's where we meet -- and and and what do you mean it's a lot of people -- there's yeah.
Apple themselves so -- leaving out the good read the lives and behavior and what's acceptable and what's inside of -- -- outside of work having a drink after work and still working okay with colleagues.
Let let's -- they're getting asked out by a supervisor.
One example and I don't -- -- -- good luck it's his co worker.
I'm sorry I forgot to call you back have gonna make it -- -- supervisor says take me out for beer don't keep helping you know it's okay first -- -- else that's.
That what is a legal term and out when you asked for service that it.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Also print and didn't it keep it actually actionable -- that.
Legal that that's -- -- and you but as supervisors saying to a subordinate notes to opera beer that's not.
I mean I've gone -- I don't drink beer but I've gone out for wine.
You know an image that yeah I -- -- yes whatever that in the.
Order for you to get information or or in order -- -- to advance your career in order you to keep your job.
There is a quid pro quo you do this for me I -- do this for you.
And if that do this for me is something sexual nature that is clearly and obviously.
Let's talk we have a wonderful historians sitting between this year and I don't want to -- David Patricia.
Joins us -- future erratic joins us.
In between Greg and -- it historically.
We saw Anita Hill we've seen women come forward.
What do you say historically about where this country might be abusive sexual harassment because we're really seeing the public backlash against Herman Cain that you have seen with the others maybe it's the nature of the allegations I don't know.
It's it's kind of seeping into the public consciousness.
There were polls which indicate Republicans were very aware of -- they were 80% aware.
Were very the half the people still didn't know anything about this.
What we're we're schizophrenic in this country about this.
I was yesterday afternoon the -- of the Letterman show and it was like Herman Cain highlight -- of jokes it was one after another.
The audience was all.
It seemed to be into it there where -- city on their hands.
I was sitting there I don't watch the Letterman show.
And frankly how much of the material on that show was sexually offense is yeah to me.
We are scared so you know this country as -- well I I think we're hypocrite and well yeah article -- And what god comes into the living rooms what comes into the monitors.
I'm here in your Green rooms from other networks or whatever.
Is is amazingly offensive but do that work and your -- talk about.
That was the difference I think it has changed dramatically and in human resources for over twenty years and I think there has been greatly heightened awareness.
These sensitive issues in the workplace and I have to say I believe most workplaces.
Have their act together and that means.
That they published policies and they make it very clear to employees.
What behavior is acceptable state standards of conduct.
And what the consequences are and just as importantly what the remedies are for employees who feel like -- -- -- to just then ever because I mean I gotta tell you these women who come out against Herman -- -- woman who -- 45000 dollars off.
Shouldn't say -- but was paid by the restaurant association.
I there was another will reportedly who was paid 35000 dollars this other woman the one who came forward the pilot woman.
Said that she hasn't been offered many admit that when asked -- one of the other networks would you accept it well.
Well -- just.
You know I mean she's thinking about it should consider -- bloody bloody.
I mean are we -- to -- does it if so does that maybe take away from from the sexual harassment.
I don't know if -- no.
-- just say do you think we are litigious society and I do you think.
The law actually address this that if you want to bring a claim against it an organization particularly in this area.
If the organization.
Has posted a policy made it clear to employees that this behavior is unacceptable.
And if you're subject to this behavior -- the remedies here -- the guidelines here that things you need to do to give the -- employer an opportunity to remedy the situation.
And you don't take advantage of that.
Then you're unlikely to and in -- court so that is to help.
Avoid all this unnecessary litigation.
We -- sometimes it's just misunderstandings or not misunderstanding but bad behavior doesn't rise in the level of harassment.
But needs to be addressed immediately need to be addressed.
-- And you need to make sure it doesn't happen again.
All right unwanted attention from clients.
This is tougher because I guess the client isn't necessarily anybody's employee.
You are sexual harassment can occur from clients -- -- from colleagues you know how really responsible.
The employer is responsible for protecting their -- let's read this on the screen getting don't want to suggest that attention from clients question I once was given a simple red rose by an important client it made me -- comfortable.
But I didn't know how to handle it I didn't want to make him mad what should I have done.
It cannot contact the context is so difficult there.
But if someone does one thing like that that makes you uncomfortable if -- to I think reasonable choices.
What has to say the person listen thank you very much for the gesture but in the future and this is not necessary.
This said that.
I say what you would say it is here but I had.
Yeah we'll let -- upset the client because that over the company and us.
You know I think people understand now so or if you're afraid that you might have set the client by saying that.
Then you ignore it the first time if it's just that one gesture and -- that one rose and there was no follow up nothing else adjust them about it.
If it doesn't happen again and then there's no harm no foul if it happens again or progresses from there -- you owe it to yourself.
I think the company frankly to tell that vendor listen.
Thank you very much of the attention this is not necessary what what we need to do is stick to the business relationship that we have and how -- help feeling that way.