I had the news on for our breakfast this morning, and though I can't find the case yet, breaking news decribed a sexual discrimination case where a woman complaining about a 'hostile work environment' was fired, and sued her employer.
Anyone who has been in management has sat through numerous nonsense seminars on sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The goal is not actually to train or teach, but rather to provide "proof" that the corporation took steps to prevent harassment (remember, it's pronounced Hair-ess-ment). That may not be the stated goals of the program, but if you want to lecture adults like children, you have to learn to take your lumps. Maybe somewhere, someone has an Oscar quality film, but it's doubtful.
But that's not the point. In this recent case, and I don't have the specifics and am not a lawyer, but it seems a woman felt that the workplace environment she was in wasn't very civilized. Crude jokes, sexually suggestive presents, and rumors of adult content on the manager's computer led her to complain about the state of affairs.
She was fired, because her complaints led to a crisis in confidence in management based on her complaints. Yes, you read that correctly.
The woman complained about the behavior that management allowed, and for her troubles, she was fired, and her court case has been ruled in favor of the company, saying that discrimination laws are not a code of civility.
I can understand why the court ruled the way it did - it seemed the adult images on the manager's computer were not actually seen by the plaintiff, so they were hearsay. And doubtless there were other 'legal" issues that made it hard for the court to rule against the company - so I'm not faulting the courts. I'm faulting the law.
Because if that woman wanted to really get paid off, all she had to do was get involved in the activities they were talking about, sleep with her supervisor, and then sue. Anyone who has been around employment long enough knows how this works. The person whose case ends up in front of the court, is almost always involved in some way in the perceived 'harassment," when an eleventh hour conversion changes her lewd conduct into charges of sexual harassment.
In the meantime, the women who were actually harassed, the ones who wouldn't sleep their way to the middle, as it were, end up leaving for better companies or stuck in truly hostile situations. Much like the fabled workers compensation cases where the person who is truly hurt tends to not complain, the joker who spent the weekend waterskiing comes in and complains about carpel tunnel or an inability to lift stacks of paper for the copier gets a cash settlement.
Don't believe me? Head on over to Fast Eddie's in Illinois and you'll hear an earfull of stories from "injured' men spending their weekends at the bar until their claim runs out.
It's amazing to me, but it's the way the legal system works. Those who the law is supposed to protect tend to be the kind of people who don't want anything to do with suing. Those who common sense suggests should be tossed out on their ear, go on to win settlements.
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