California now requires sexual harassment training for all supervisors– among other provisions, this means two hours at least every two years. I just finished my two hours and many of the topics covered were issues I covered during the hiring practices portion of my Masters program. However, aside from topics like supervisor duties and liabilities, protected characteristics and what constitutes illegal discrimination, preventing a hostile work environment and how to handle complaints, the training covers some very interesting case studies. As we jokingly said, if it was sexual harassment training, it would be sexual harassment.
I don’t think I’m breaking any rules by sharing some of these case study examples since they are real world examples of sexual harassment litigation, so here’s a little sampling so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about:
One word: priapism. If you don’t know what this word means, you should learn, especially if you’re a guy, and then check out the 2006 case Arrieta-Colon v. Wal-Mart. Props to Arrieta-Colon in winning the case, but talk about awkward.
That may be sexual harassment, but more importantly, it’s sexual assault. There were one or two examples where one co-worker (usually male) continually made unwanted romantic/sexual advances towards a co-worker (usually female)– advances that weren’t just repeated requests for a date or inappropriate comments, but extended to groping, touching, and more. (Specifically, check out the 2006 case Howard v. Winter as one example.) While admittedly there are serious sexual harassment issues, what about the sexual assault? This type of behavior is illegal not only in terms of creating a hostile work environment, but also because it’s a crime. I don’t know about you, but sexual assault trumps sexual harassment.
Spanking. And lots of it. WTF? There were multiple examples of spanking somehow being introduced into the workplace as a sometimes valid, sometimes invalid form of punishment. Check out the 2002 case Yerry v. Pizza Hut of Southeast Kansas. If someone seriously suggested to me to physically hit or be hit, much less spank or be spanked, as a way to punish someone in the workplace, I think my head would explode. And yet, somehow people involved in such cases went along with this treatment. It’s amazing what people don’t understand about their rights, will put up with to keep their jobs or do to avoid confrontation.
And with that, a little video to lighten the mood: