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Ask Slashdot: Preempting Sexual Harassment In the Workplace? 1127

Posted by timothy
from the force-breeds-resistance dept.
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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Ask Slashdot: Preempting Sexual Harassment In the Workplace?

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  • laws (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:20PM (#40779621)

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

    • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by crawling_chaos (23007) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:24PM (#40779765) Homepage
      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by icebike (68054) * on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:23PM (#40780991)

        The night janitor has a better chance of fixing your code than a lawyer has of improving your workplace environment.

        There are a lot of causal expressions that are in common usage which if followed to their roots, will be found to have a sexual connotation. And there are just enough female workers looking for any excuse to file a complaint.

        In a place I worked, a part failed in a production machine, and the replacement was two states and three days away. The deadline was the next day. The supervisor muttered "We're screwed!" and the woman handling shipping orders filed a complaint.

        This kind of thing happens all the time. All. The. Time. The bigger the company and the more aggressive the EEO department, the more it happens.

        And by your prescription, there has to be a hearing, lawyers have to be involved, outside mediators, people reprimanded, the whole nine yards.
        There has to be a better way.

    • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Martin Blank (154261) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:26PM (#40779791) Journal

      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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:29PM (#40779867) Homepage Journal

      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:29PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hackula (2596247) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:45PM (#40780227)
        That is why you pull your team aside before anything happens and remind them "if you harass another employee then you will be fired". Someone who hears that and does it anyway deserves the boot. This has nothing to do with being harsh or being PC; it is about having a respectful work environment and not getting sued.

        Just because the law says something is or is not appropriate/right/etc doesn't mean that's the case everywhere.

        Tell that to the judge who is asking you to liquidate all of your company's assets to pay for the harassment penalties.

      • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Seumas (6865) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:05PM (#40780651)

        It's 2012. This isn't some arcane art. You have new-hires sign a sexual harassment policy and you have all employees consume a sexual harassment policy training session every year or so (an online recorded session does just fine). This way, everyone is aware of the legal obligations, the company policy, and the responses they can expect if they violate policy. Then, you have an HR department that handles complaints and reports and acts accordingly as per law and company policy, including termination if deemed necessary.

        I really can't imagine where these people are working that this is even an issue. I'm a professional in the tech industry and I can't imagine anyone I've worked with having any sort of inappropriate interactions with female colleagues (nor have I ever encountered this happening in almost two decades in the industry). Aren't we at least two or three decades past the transitional "women coming into the workplace" period? Aren't practically all the guys that would be old enough for this to even remotely be a problem for already retired?

        • Re:laws (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:52PM (#40781525)

          I really can't imagine where these people are working that this is even an issue. I'm a professional in the tech industry and I can't imagine anyone I've worked with having any sort of inappropriate interactions with female colleagues (nor have I ever encountered this happening in almost two decades in the industry). Aren't we at least two or three decades past the transitional "women coming into the workplace" period? Aren't practically all the guys that would be old enough for this to even remotely be a problem for already retired?

          This is exactly what I thought, and exactly my experience as well, with about 15 years experience in the industry. Women in the workplace are nothing new; even in smaller companies I've worked at, we had plenty of women working there, though not usually as IT people or engineers, but we still had to be around them and interact with them. Women are usually dominant in roles such as HR, after all.

          But to read Slashdot, you'd think that programming teams are all full of misogynistic "brogrammers". Maybe you and I have been lucky or something, but most of the tech people I've worked with were married, frequently had kids, and had no trouble with female co-workers (or cow-orkers).

    • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by History's Coming To (1059484) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:31PM (#40779925) Journal
      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sir_Sri (199544) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:38PM (#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'.

      • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

        by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:23PM (#40780993)

        Imagine if this was physical abuse.

        Why not imagine that it were eco-terrorism, or a breach of contract, or an act of vandalism, or any other completely unrelated issue, like the physical abuse you mention? It's easy to avoid behavior that is objectively wrong (a knife in the stomach kills anyone), but if the issue is "person X is being offended where many others wouldn't since all people are different", I find it pretty hard to justify the kind of disciplinary actions some of the commenters seem to advocate. I'm happy to live in a more backwater-ish part of the world where grave acts of harrasment including threats, intimidations, and all sorts of physical stuff are punished but jokes and banter are treated for what they actually are. If anything, some of my female colleagues made *me* blush for some things I've heard from them, not the other way round. No one sane has ever had any problem with it. I hope that no one ever will.

        • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

          by yurtinus (1590157) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @02:15PM (#40781905)
          Agreed a thousand times... We're trading in humor and lighthearted jabs because they might offend somebody? If one person in a group is offended by a joke - what type of culture is going to engender more respect amongst the team: The offended person saying "hey, that's too far" or heading off to file an official complaint? In the first case *both* parties gain a better understanding of each other. The latter case just leads to further alienation.

          It sounds like the submitter's team is already a place where lighthearted banter is commonplace and I don't think for a second that should change for a new member to the team. It doesn't matter if the new team member is a different gender, race, or creed. The existing team needs to be aware that some jabs might need to change a bit, and the new team member needs it made clear that they should speak up if any jokes make them uncomfortable. As much as we try to codify everything into some sort of policy - nothing works better than open communication.
    • Re:laws (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tverbeek (457094) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:02PM (#40780601) Homepage

      The way this question is posed sounds like someone off to a really bad start. Making "simple, fun" games out of what should be Standards of Conduct for a work environment is just asking for trouble. Would you put up a jar for someone to pay into every time they tell a nigger joke? Or a lighthearted way of dealing with people stealing equipment? It sounds like the current environment is the sociological equivalent of a bunch of guys who never had to grow up and move out of their parents' basement. Well... it's time. Grown-ups don't have any trouble figuring out what's socially-acceptable behavior and acting accordingly. Tell your staff it's time for them to be grown-ups. It doesn't mean you can't still have a fun environment... I'm guessing it's probably still fun without racist comments (trust me: some of your staff probably think them without saying them). Bring someone in for a "awareness" program, and the boss should set the tone indicating that he takes it seriously. Anyone who doesn't... needs to get to work on their resume, and also practicing "would you like fries with that" because acting like a grown-up who refrains from sexual innuendo at the work place is a pretty standard job requirement.

    • Re:laws (Score:5, Informative)

      by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:18PM (#40780909)

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

      In addition, things like "remarks, double entendres and innuendos", while perhaps inappropriate, are not simply and automatically sexual harassment. Generally the "affront" has to be knowingly unwelcome and frequent and severe. So, contrary to many TV shows, simply asking someone out or complementing them on [whatever] is not harassment, until you've been asked not to. Though incomplete, Wikipedia says this:

      Sexual harassment is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. Harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

      Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

      Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision ....

      People sometimes need to get a grip.

      • Re:laws (Score:5, Informative)

        by Stirling Newberry (848268) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @02:09PM (#40781797) Homepage Journal
        Incorrect, the law is:

        Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

        Or briefly, people do not have to put up with certain sh*t to keep a job.

  • Good grief... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:21PM (#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... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:31PM (#40779937) Homepage Journal

      ...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.

    • by StCredZero (169093) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:42PM (#40780155)

      ...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.

      This man's coworkers probably just think they're having good clean fun and that they're "keeping it real" in the face of what they feel to be phony soul-tarnishing political correctness. However, it's hard to really walk in another's shoes sometimes. Points of view are intellectually challenging. (Which is why scientists use the mirror test as a marker of sentience.)

      One person's idea of "good clean fun" isn't necessarily the same as another person's. It sounds like there's a group there who has been enjoying the camaraderie and other benefits of a tight-knit "workplace culture." of their own. As the workforce at your company gets larger, the likelihood of everyone new liking all aspects of the original group's "culture" are going to diminish. So either you're going to have to impose the same "culture" on all new employees or this group "culture" is going to have to change.

      Again, it's a point of view thing, so it's going to be very hard to convey what it truly means to be on the other side of their "ribbing." A good professional trainer might be in order. (But a bad trainer is likely to only make things worse.) Change also needs to be backed up by authority. It's probably only going to work at all smoothly with buy-in from the social leaders of that group.

  • Hire a trainer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plopez (54068) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:21PM (#40779635) Journal

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

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:29PM (#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.
    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:47PM (#40780287) Homepage Journal

      Formal training is vital legally but doesn't always reach people.

      Making an example of someone is something you should be ready to do. Sounds like you'll need to. Do it early.

      Brainstorming about preventive measures to *supplement* your policy: start memes like "nerds don't bully nerds" or "would you say that to your sister?". Hire an outspoken victim that nerds can identify with to talk (not lecture) about what the impact is.

  • by Thorodin (1999352) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:21PM (#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.
  • Guaranteed? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by avandesande (143899) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:21PM (#40779645) Journal

    Is your team a bunch of 14YOs?

  • Dear Old Mum (Score:5, Interesting)

    Get every member of the team to put a picture of the mother on their desks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:22PM (#40779671)

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

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:22PM (#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.

  • by bigrat (25898) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:23PM (#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.

  • Preemptive Humor (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FallSe7en (2101132) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:23PM (#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? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CMiYC (6473) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:23PM (#40779723) Homepage

    "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.

  • by garcia (6573) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:24PM (#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.

  • Pardon Me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by carrier lost (222597) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:24PM (#40779745) Homepage

    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!

    • Re:Pardon Me (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tnk1 (899206) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:42PM (#40780167)

      I find it really strange that kids these days are such misogynists, they have almost no reason to be. Their girlfriends put out, send them nude photos, dress much more revealingly, and they even sometimes play video games. Not to mention that almost none of these boys has even been married.

      It used to be that you had to put on a few decades of living before a man really worked up a real mindless hatred of the opposite sex, usually fueled by a bitter divorce.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:24PM (#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?

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:25PM (#40779769) Journal
    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...)
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:25PM (#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.

  • by not already in use (972294) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:27PM (#40779835)
    This is all you need to know about sexual harassment and how to prevent it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBVuAGFcGKY [youtube.com]
  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JDG1980 (2438906) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:28PM (#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?

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:29PM (#40779881) Homepage

    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.

  • Whoa boy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by matunos (1587263) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:30PM (#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.

  • Identify the problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swm (171547) * <swmcd@world.std.com> on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:30PM (#40779903) Homepage
    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?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    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.

  • by jeko (179919) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:33PM (#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... :-)

  • 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.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:34PM (#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.

  • by Whatsthiswhatsthis (466781) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:35PM (#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?
  • by erp_consultant (2614861) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:39PM (#40780105)
    If I were the manager of your department I would gather everyone together in a room and close the door. I would let the team know that we will be having a new team member joining us on Monday and that it's a female. I would carefully explain the concept of sexual harassment to them and the serious implications that it carries. Then I would remind them that this is not some fucking college frat house, this is a place of work. There will be zero, and I mean zero, tolerance for harassment of any kind - sexual or otherwise. If I find out about it I will have no choice but to report it to HR - otherwise MY ass is on the line for not reporting it. The first offense will get you a written warning. Second offense, your ass is out the door. This isn't baseball, you don't get three strikes in this game. Anyone that doesn't feel that they can abide by those rules are free to tender their resignation effective immediately. This is serious shit - do NOT fuck with me on this. Any questions? Good :-)
  • Put another way... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hackula (2596247) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:50PM (#40780347)
    How is this different from the following?:

    "My team of about 10 white men (white IT guys) is expecting a new colleague: a black one. It is guaranteed that there will be remarks, racist jokes and insults with huge potential of getting worse. We already have blacks 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 racist-remark 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."

    This kind of work environment is completely unacceptable in the 21st century.

  • US centric answers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kidbro (80868) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:10PM (#40780743)

    I notice a lot of US centric answers, including references to "sexual harassment training". The submitter's profile page indicates he's located in the Czech Republic.
    As another European, I can say that the only time I've heard of "sexual harassment training" (interesting name, btw - does it train you to be better at it?) is in slashdot posts, by Americans, on the topic. While sexual harassment laws exist here, they obviously don't work the same way, or are enforced with the same rigour on this side of the pond.

    Now, I do agree with the general advice, which is essentially grow the fuck up, but assuming American law and corporate procedures when giving advice is probably not very helpful.

  • by realsilly (186931) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:24PM (#40781015)

    .... it really sucks and sets tension in the air that just never seems to go away.

    I worked for a popular retail store during my young adult years (mid-20s) and had a colleague blatantly sexually harass me. My dress was business attire with skirts that were two inches below the knees, and was strictly adhered to, it was not how I dressed. He even went so far as to put something on a display computer that a customer who tested a print file was shocked and dismayed at what he picked up from the printer and handed to me. I was mortified and so embarrassed. I was humiliated in front of a potential customer all because this guy thought his actions were funny or cute or something like that. I promptly demanded him to "get his ass over to the machine and remove the information or I would re-format the hard-drive and have him explain it to management." That and several other incidents finally prompted me to speak up. When I noticed that one of our security officers was also a Part-time police officer, I asked him for advice. He stated that I could indeed press charges, but it would be best if I addressed the issue with Management. I did, we were both interviewed, I was reprimanded for swearing and he got a slap on the wrist. I felt like my concerns were ignored. I had proof in my hands and was basically told, tough crap kiddo.

    In the end, he was not fired, and we were never scheduled on the same shift. Frankly, I was livid, and I never felt comfortable there. Ever since then I am very wary about what I say that might elicit some sort of unwanted response. I have worked with teams that are consistently made up of a 90% to 10% male to female ratio in all of my different jobs, Often I am the only female on the technical team. I have never treated any other male colleague as though he was that first guy. And I've been lucky so far that there has never been a situation to deal with like the first one I described. I am no prude, I can keep up with the rest of my male colleagues jokes and even keep them in check.

    But the biggest thing to take from all this is that once there is clear and definitive sexual harassment that makes the recipient feel uncomfortable, nothing short of a termination will make the recipient feel safe. It's harsh, but so is the feeling that comes from being harassed.

  • Harassment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:43PM (#40781341)
    Is the abuse of power by a person in a position of power, to try to obtain sexual favors. Making a comment about a co-workers boobs in NOT harassment. Slapping a co-worker's ass is NOT harassment (but it may be assault). However a boss telling an employee that he/she will be denied advancement unless he/she performs some sort of sex act IS sexual harassment. But like many other words such as "genocide" and "terrorist", "harassment" has been bastardized to include any sexual behavior between anyone if one of the parties doesn't consent (or later changes their mind about consenting).

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