Sexual harassment: Some people didn’t get the memo

Sexual harassment at work is page one stuff of late. It's everywhere, says Senior Correspondent Mike Causey, even in federal offices.

Sexual harassment at the office is often disruptive, always wrong, stupid and in some cases illegal. Yet we keep on doing it. It comes in a wide variety, but is mostly men — often older and at a higher level — hitting on women. Sometimes it makes national news when it involves entertainers, TV big shots or politicians. Mostly it just makes life very, very unpleasant for someone trying to do a job and earn a paycheck. In a column here last week, an Internal Revenue Service worker said as more women move into higher-level jobs, some have become office predators, just like the menfolk. To which a fellow IRSer replied:

“I work at the same agency as Gene and I am a woman. While he is correct that many woman executives have been hired, they are not the predominate executives at the top. No, that title still has white male written all over it. As I have worked here for 20-plus years now, when I was younger, I was harassed by three individual men. I never reported any of the incidents, but I have heard this story from other women. What shocks me is that the same men who sexually harassed me went on to other victims who told their own horrors. Two were my direct managers, another one was a co-worker who thought I was just playing hard to get. I was so young back then and scared of losing my job, so I kept quiet, thank goodness none of it turned into a sexual assault. I do not personally know of any men who were harassed by female co-workers, except for one who filed an EEO compliant against his co-worker, but this gentleman only stayed with the government for about five years before he moved onto bigger and better things. I hope the sexual harassment of the young man didn’t drive his decision to leave the service.”

A number of readers cited examples, some of which would be funny if they weren’t so sad. Or stupid. For example:

“I was going to meet with an executive at his request in his office. When I came in, I noticed he was kind of flushed. I asked if this was a good time and he requested that we reschedule. As I was leaving, I noticed the bottoms of women’s shoes peaking out of the small space between the floor and his desk.”

She suspected it was not a witch scene from The Wizard of Oz and beat a hasty retreat.

“There was an executive in the field who loved to hug women just a little too long. Especially, large-breasted women. When I noticed women felt uncomfortable based on their reaction and body language, I mentioned this to his superior, he stated: ‘Oh, that’s just how Bob is. He means no harm.’ Shortly thereafter, a newly employed female came to see me to file a SH complaint. Needless to say, nothing was done other than to have a ‘friendly’ chat with him.”

“I became aware of an incident where a mentally challenged female, whose job was to deliver mail from office to office, was pregnant. It came to light that she was ‘playing’ with a male employee on their break time. When I approached her supervisor, he stated: ‘Oh I know. I introduced them. Let them have their fun.'”

Misuse of a credit card. Not harassment, but…

“I sat as part of a committee to review incidents of misconduct to ensure discipline was given fairly. One case involved a newly hired executive who used his government credit card to purchase ‘breast enhancements’ for his girlfriend for her birthday. When asked his defense for doing so, he responded: ‘You mean I couldn’t do that? Was that wrong?’ He was fired. Not for harassment, but for stupidity, no doubt.”

Finally, Bill, a Navy civilian said he sees harassment almost every time he eats out:

“Good article, but Gene of the IRS has even a larger point. How about gay people (male and female) in and not in power?

“My thinking is until the government and the private sector can just recognize plain old ‘harassment’ and ‘assaults’ as a crime, all forms of harassment will live on within all sexes, religions, races, cultures and people in and out of the workplace.

“I often go to well-established restaurants all over the world, but the U.S. is special. I see old men performing sexual harassment all the time with waitresses to the point of making inappropriate sexual comments and advances and touching. I see waitresses that put up with it in hopes of getting a good tip. I see managers that overlook it unless the waitress makes a verbal or written complaint, which rarely happens for the above reason. But how about the other waitresses and more so customers who know what it is, sexual harassment and in some cases an assault. Waitresses make about $2.90 per hour plus tips that many have to share with the staff. I say, let’s start by forcing anyone with a business to pay all their employees at least minimum wage and in the case of the tips from a customer, a gift for good service and not a private-sector tax.

“Another possibility would be for the government to make a law that if the establishment does not pay employees at least the federal minimum wage, they must have a 15-20 percent gratuity added to every bill that is part of the employee’s pay. Will this stop sexual harassment from customers? You bet. The customer no longer has the power over the waiter or waitress, and they are more likely to report it and force the manager to contact police and get paid for the entire bill at the same time.” Just saying

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

George S. Boutwell was the first Commissioner of the Internal Revenue, serving in that capacity under President Abraham Lincoln. He would later lead the impeachment of Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson.

Source: Wikipedia

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