Sexually Harassed at Work

Bet that got your attention!

One of the bosses received an email, stating in part:

Majority of our clients in New York still have not completed the requirements for the new Sexual Harassment Law Change that went into effect in October of 2018. You need to put a policy in your handbook that your employees sign off on as well as hold annual interactive sexual harassment training’s.

Without commenting on the obvious grammatical errors, nor on the fact that we don’t even have a “handbook,”  one of my bosses asked me to find out if small employers are exempt from the new law.

Our firm consists of four people: two attorneys, two secretaries (of the four, one is male and three are female).  Surely, we wouldn’t be expected to institute formal sexual harassment prevention training?  After all, if any one of the four of us had a problem, it would be addressed and quickly resolved.  We’re like family.

The male in our office responded, “Well, if you would all just stop picking on me …

It’s so nice to finally work where people have a sense of humor.

Back in the day (in my case, early 1970’s), women (and men) knew how to handle unwanted comments and attention.  I can recall, at the age of 19, being chased through an office building by an older man on the day he retired, because he “wanted a kiss” before he left.  I simply ran into my own department (the steno pool), where my supervisor demanded to know just what was going on.  The supervisor was a tough old broad who didn’t appreciate “her” staff being harassed, and she sent the guy packing.  Up until then, I always thought she was a bitch on wheels, but after that I came to respect her take-no-prisoners attitude.

As a young woman, I learned how to get ahead in the workplace without succumbing to unwanted advances, but also without alienating those higher up the food chain.  I learned to deal with petty jealousies and backstabbing from those on the same chain link as I was.  It was a skill every one of us learned.  Such harassment was part of ordinary working life, and usually wasn’t all that serious.  All men were assholes, and all women were bitches.  We dealt with it, we moved on, and we advanced in our careers.

Anyway.

It so happens that this recently enacted law applies to all New York State employers, regardless of size.  Our little firm is  obligated to have a written policy in place and to institute annual, interactive training.

Fortunately, the great State of New York provides a model policy and a model complaint form.  All that is required is to insert the employer’s name and the name/contact information for the person who is responsible for receiving and resolving complaints.

That part was easy.  But what about the interactive training?  A quick internet search showed training videos running into hundreds of dollars, some even over a thousand dollars!  Again, we only have four people!

Also fortunately, the great State of New York provides sexual harassment prevention training videos for just this purpose – and they’re free!  Unfortunately, those videos are basically just power-point presentations of the written material on their website.  The “case studies” video is interesting and informative – but really, couldn’t New York afford some actors, instead of simply voiceover reading the slide in question?  New York taxes are among the highest in the country – can’t we get some entertainment for our money?

Regardless, the videos are now part of our firm’s training program (hey – free!  and, mercifully short).

I guess I’m now the office training coordinator.  Yay me.  I can hardly wait to see which of the four people will be first in with a juicy complaint.  For all the extra work, I think I should at least get a special hat.

Happy Friday, folks.  May your day be stress-free.

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I love to hear from my readers. You may comment on this post, comment on my Facebook or Twitter pages, or email me at cordeliasmom2012@yahoo.com
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Images by Cordelia’s Mom/TeddyRosalie Studio

 

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22 Responses to Sexually Harassed at Work

  1. ksbeth says:

    instant promotion

    Like

  2. I suppose they can’t make exceptions, small firm or no… it could still happen. Good luck!

    Like

    • Sure, it could happen anywhere, but in such a small firm there’s a good chance the person you’d have to complain to would be the same one doing the harassing. Thankfully, there are no problems like that where I work.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Barry says:

    The NY requirements seem somewhat similar to those that we’ve had in Aotearoa New Zealand for some time. Here’s a NZ case study illustrating that sexual harassment is not acceptable in any work environment: Sex worker sues for sexual harassment…and wins

    Like

  4. Dan Antion says:

    I am hoping to retire before someone gets the bright idea to comply with whatever law is out there.

    Like

  5. Tippy Gnu says:

    In my entire working life I was only sexually harassed once, when a coworker patted my butt. Up to that point I didn’t realize he was gay. I’m not sure if it was really harassment, or his form of gaydar, trying to figure out if I would be interested. I didn’t respond, and he didn’t do it again. Very simple, problem solved. I guess we need these laws, and this training, for those who can’t resolve issues that easily.

    Like

    • Personally, I think parents needs to teach their kids how to handle such situations, like our parents taught us. Things have gone way too far when a simple pat on the shoulder is considered sexual harassment. We knew the difference in our day.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That is mostly how I handled it … except when the exploiter was the guy who owned and ran the company. I changed jobs. There was no way I could say no without it getting way out of hand. I was married and my husband was a nutcase who would probably try to stab the guy … and to make it even better, my boss was a much more attractive guy than my husband.

    I left literally within 24 hours. It’s not always that easy. It can get very tacky and very complicated faster than you can say hey, wait a minute.

    Like

    • (Well, this was freaky, and it must be because it’s you — when I tried to reply to your comment, WP put it into trash instead! Fortunately, I knew how to get it back)
      Anyway. We’ve most of us been in similar situations, and it is my point exactly that we dealt with it, whether by ignoring it, responding in a humorous fashion, finding someone higher up to help, of if all else failed, simply leaving the job and going elsewhere. Back in the day, legal action was reserved for more serious cases involving rape or physical harm. Perhaps some of us should have gone after such a pervert legally, but we didn’t. These days, however, a simple pat on the shoulder or a simple misconstrued look is actionable. I think things have gone a bit too far.

      Like

  7. joey says:

    Hmm. I was sexually harassed at my first job and not since, because thank you, Jim, I can now smell a lech a mile away. Like you, I work in a small office and it’s 5 to 1, no problems. Just trying to imagine it is hilarious. I can’t even imagine it!
    Where Mentor and I worked prior, there was us and him. When he hired me, he made me read a handbook and sign, which I thought seemed normal. I later discovered only when he hired me, he had her sign it too — and suddenly she had rules she’d never had before. It was all very odd. As if the third employee made him think it was finally a ‘real’ business. The stories I will write one day.

    Like

  8. markbialczak says:

    We went through our mandatory N.Y. training session at our annual Staff Summit this past week, CM. Our presenter was thorough, and relatable. I got the feeling that everybody got the jest.

    Like

    • There’s been so much publicity that these days everyone is aware of the ramifications of any comment or gesture. I can understand the need for such training, but object a bit to a 4-person office having to deal with it. One of us would have to be the presenter to the other three, and I think it could get quite uncomfortable. As it was, I had to stomp down my tendency for sarcastic comments as I sent the required materials to my co-workers. Thank heavens, I was able to do it by email so they couldn’t see how I was struggling not to laugh.

      Like

  9. Anonymous says:

    There’s a CRNA who’s flirtations have a tendency to be crude, and frankly I’m more annoyed that he does it within earshot of pre-op patients waiting to go in for surgery. I have wonderful responses to shut him down, but then the dialogue would be longer, and then again, in front of patients. So, I ignore it.

    Yes, there was a mandatory online course we all took. I thought it was nuts because on the patient care level, staff is 95% female. And that anesthesia group, they are subcontracted. They are not employees.
    I think I have to get bitchier. It might help.
    In the meantime, I had a friend tell him I’m looking for a husband and want more kids.
    That CRNA’s humor has gotten much cleaner!

    Like

    • Sounds like you’re handling things just fine (unless, of course, he wants to get married and have a bunch of kids). I agree that such flirtatious behavior, especially in front of patients, is unacceptable. Just FYI, though, your employer is responsible for the behavior of subcontracted workers, too, should it ever get to the point where you need to bring in someone higher up.

      Like

  10. We managed, it’s true, although it certainly wasn’t ideal. I worked in large offices when I was single, and there were a large assortment of ‘lechy’ guys. Once I was engaged, it all ended. My husband-to-be (a burly guy) made a practice of meeting me at the office, sending me flowers, and generally marking his turf. When I think back, I realize how primitive it all was! Much better to be direct and have the damned workshops!

    Like

    • Hey, I think your method and your husband’s method were perfect. Ain’t no one gonna mess with you under those circumstances. Again, it highlights the fact that we all found ways to deal with it back in the day.

      Like

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