Harassment in the workplace: Party Company Fires Teen for Complaining About Sexual Harassment

Blond women in business clothing with hand up signaling STOPHarassment in the workplace

If you’re a teenager, a party company seems like it would be a pretty cool place to work. Unless of course, your manager regularly peppers you with unwanted sexual advances.  The teen girl, who worked at  Screamin’ Parties, a New York company that hosts parties for children, filed a complain with the state’s Division of Civil Rights alleging that she had been subjected to unwanted sexual advances by her male supervisor. She also alleged that she was fired a month after complaining about the treatment. In addition to the sexual harassment from her supervisor, the teen says she was also subjected to inappropriate comments from male co-workers.

Although the company admitted no wrongdoing, it has agreed to pay the teen $15,000 to resolve the suit.

Click here to read the full article.

Should women “man-up” in the workplace?

00401561Sexual harassment in the workplace has always been a touchy subject – no pun intended. Based on the comments I see here and on other sites, it seems as though when it comes to sexual harassment many readers feel like women should just “man-up.”

Apparently they’re not alone. On Forbes.com, Meghan Casserly references several authors, professors and experts on the subject who believe that some women need to rethink what’s considered sexual harassment. Some seem to suggest that if women want to be treated as equals in the workplace then there’s a certain level of hostility that’s to be expected.

Wayne State University law professor and author of Biology At Work: Rethinking Sexual Equality Kingsley R. Browne, notes that for years men have been subjected to the same verbally abusive and hostile work environments as many of their female counterparts. According to Browne, “This behavior is a part of the male tool kit for competitive situations–a means of weeding out the strong from the weak that dates back to the era of hunter-gatherers.”

Browne, whose work is controversial, believes that women are primed by society to look for sexual harassment and that sexual harassment training in and of itself is partly to blame, priming people to take offense at things.

Casserly speaks to a few experts and you can read her entire post here. But what are your thoughts on Browne’s thinking? Have women become hypersensitive to hostile work environments, labeling everything as harassment?

Clarence Thomas vs. Anita Hill – The lessons learned almost 20 years later

Hill and Thomas Time Magazine Thanks to an odd voicemail from Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, sexual harassment allegations made against the justice nearly 20 years ago are back in the spotlight. For those too young to remember watching the story unfold long before text messages, Facebook and Twitter, here’s the story in a nutshell. In October 1991 as the Senate was set to confirm Thomas, who would become only the second African American to serve on the court, one of his former senate aides, Anita Hill, came forward with allegations of sexual harassment.

I remember watching much of the hearings, which aired over three days on network TV. The image of the infamous pubic hair on the coke can, Hill’s somber expression and Thomas’ “high-class lynching” comments are forever etched in my mind. I remember believing Hill, finding Thomas’ “lynching” comments ironic and wondering why Hill waited so long to make her claims. I remember colleagues, family members and college students asking out loud why Thomas would have to, or “want to” harass Hill since, in their opinion, “she wasn’t even attractive” anyway. Those conversations and Thomas’ eventual confirmation sent strong messages to a young woman just entering the workforce.

The first message I got loud and clear – only women who look a certain way get sexually harassed by their superiors. The next – it’s better to keep quiet about harassment because nothing’s going to be done about it anyway and it will have a negative impact on your life and career. And the fact that back in 1991 only 24% of Americans believed Hill, sent the final and loudest message – no one is going to believe you.

Of course those messages were wrong. Harassment is first and foremost about power, and sexual harassment can and does occur regardless of a person’s appearance, sexual orientation or race. It can and does occur in environments and with individuals who have a need to assert their authority in an inappropriate and demeaning manner. And while Hill’s accusations were lost in the noise of politics and race, the truth is, her speaking out about what happened gave voice to women across the country who previously had none.

As for people not believing when harassment is reported – some people will never believe. I imagine that’s at least part of the reason behind Virginia Thomas’ bizarre voicemail to Hill asking for an apology. I have a little message of my own for Mrs. Thomas – people who haven’t done anything wrong have nothing to apologize for.

Check out Virginia Thomas’ voicemail to Ms. Hill here, and footage of the 1991 Thomas hearings here.

Where were you when the hearings were taking place in 1991? What did you think of them then and has your view changed? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

A hotbed of relentless sexual harassment

Sexual Harassment still a threat in the workplace

That’s how a Manhattan jury described the University Club, a 100 year-old New York social club. Six waitresses accused 71 year old banquet captain Mel Guzman of allocating shifts based on how they responded to his advances.

When the club received its first sexual harassment complaint, it confronted the married banquet captain who said that there had been “consensual” contact. The waitresses’ attorney Joshua Friedman is quoted as saying “Guzman is between 20 and 45 years older than the plaintiffs, and they worked with his wife at the club, and they were married or in steady relationships. Yet he is going to ask you to believe the plaintiffs desired him so badly that they initiated sexual contact with him. Where? In the elevator,” He continued, “Six women do not schedule rendezvous in freight elevators and ask the man to grope their breasts, buttocks and private parts through their pantyhose. It was a sickening abuse of power that left six women emotionally scarred.”

Guzman’s attorney, Daniel Hughes, said his client was a victim of a “she-said, she-said conspiracy” where the waitresses motivation was to get more money and work.

Read more about the case here.

From the “Seriously dude?” files

Spears ex-bodyguard Fernando FloresLet’s start off by establishing that it is entirely possible, and probably more common than we know, for men to be victims of sexual harassment. But in the case of Britney Spears’ ex-security guard, I’m kind of leaning to the “seriously dude?” side.

Fernando Flores, who Spears hired in February of this year, claims that the singer exposed herself, insulted him and threatened to fire him over a slurpee incident (wth?), leaving him emotionally scarred. The suit, which seeks unspecified damages was filed in LA Superior Court on Wednesday and claims that Spears made repeated unwanted sexual advances toward Flores and summoned him to her room “for no other purpose or reason than to expose her naked body or near-naked body.” Flores also states that Spears engaged in sexual acts in front of him and her children.

Spears’ lawyers say that the suit is just an attempt at taking advantage of the Spears family. Even Spears’ estranged husband has weighed in on the suit saying it’s motivated by money. Britney Spears has been guilty of many things, but this, this seems to be outside of even her realm of crazy. Which still leaves me asking “seriously dude?”  Thoughts?

Read the rest of the story here.

What’s employment harassment and what’s not?

If a vendor visits the office and repeatedly makes unwanted sexual advances at the receptionist, can the employer be held responsible? If your bad boss harassingly nitpicks everything you do, is she guilty of harassment? Check out this video that helps clarify what’s considered employment harassment and what’s not…

Mega church leader accused of sexual misconduct

Bishop Eddie LongThe head of one of Atlanta’s most prominent Baptist churches, Bishop Eddie Long, now stands accused of having sexual relationships with two men, former members of Long’s 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

The men now in their 20’s, were 17 and 18 at the time of the alleged abuse. Filing separate claims, the two maintain the bishop wooed them with money, overnight trips and gifts. The lawsuit claims, “Defendant Long has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship.”

In statements released by the church, Bishop Long categorically denies the charges. Atlanta’s all abuzz about the situation and one of the city’s most famous churches. Here’s what the Atlanta Journal is reporting,

Church spokesman Art Franklin did phone interviews with CNN and the “Frank and Wanda Morning Show.” He strongly denied the allegations but declined to get specific when pressed, saying the lawyers had yet to look at the full lawsuits.

“It’s really unfortunate these two men have decided to take this course of action,” Franklin told Ski. “The plaintiffs, these are not innocent victims. …I just caution people to consider the sources and their motives.”

On CNN, Franklin said the plaintiffs were motivated by “retaliation” and called it “a shakedown for money.”

Read more about Long here in the AJC online.

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