Re: "Sexual Harassment" ?

Subject: Re: "Sexual Harassment" ?
From: chuckm -at- MDHOST -dot- CSE -dot- TEK -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 8 May 1995 14:09:16 PDT

Chas. Bosdet wrote:

[ > = Chas.
[ > >> = Vince
[ > > = Karen

> Karen Kay takes exception to a comment by Vince Putman, and makes a couple of
> interesting allegations (5/6, "No Such Thing as Technical Editor"). Alleged
> denigration and sexual harassment are the topics du jour.

> A couple of questions are relevent here and of more than passing interest:
> Members of this list deal in language for a living, sexual harassment is the
> kind of charge that would demand management attention and perhaps judicial
> arbitration, and nearly anyone could become the target of this charge, if the
> exchange below is any indication. For now, pretend you're the supervisor of
> the employees involved, and the complaint has just arrived at your desk.

> {deletia}

> >>
> >> So there smartie pants, more FACTS.

> Karen responds to Vince, in pertinent part:

> > I can't begin to tell you how angry this last sentence makes me.
> > If we were working together and you said this, and did not
> > apologize for being rude and denigrating, it's the kind of thing I
> > would go to a supervisor over. It's the kind of statement that
> > smacks of sexual harrassment and makes me want to slap your
> > face.

Ahh, but what will she slap his face with? :-)

> Regarding the "so there, smartie pants" comment:

> 1. Is the comment "denigrating"? How so?

> Is it defammatory? Does it belittle the person to whom it was
> addressed?

Yes, the comment is insulting and belittling. To me, it implies that
her reasoning is sophistic. It suggests that that Karen simply didn't do
a reality check; only Vince is grounded in reality ("more FACTS"). I can't
see the comment "smartie pants" as a simple throw-away comment nor can I
imagine how anyone would see it as a compliment.

> 2. Does the comment constitute "sexual harassment"? How?

> Perhaps Karen can explain her point of view, and then members of the list can
> discuss (1) whether they'd view the comment as denigrating and constituting
> sexual harassment, and (2) how they'd handle the situation as the supervisor.
> Let's keep the discussion focused on the language as much as we can.

I would not call it sexual harassement. I was called a "smartie pants" by
some kids in school, so I know the term isn't sexist in nature. Just because
a man says it to a woman doesn't make it sexual harassment any more than
the other way around. But, if it happened again, after Karen stated
that she found it to be harassing, I would say it is harassment. Harassment
is determined by the person harassed, not by the person who is harassing.
And, if I recall correctly, the action considered harassing must occur
more than once. If it occurs only once, it is insulting but not harassing.

The problem as I see it is that "sexual harassment" is a term which has
specific legal meaning and we are trying to discuss it as a term in
everyday discourse. While words do evolve, they usually doesn't change
meaning based on the most recent novel. Legal meanings can change based
on the most recent appeal. Of course, we must be able to discuss legal
terms in everyday discourse, but we have to remember that such terms
are not defined by Webster's as much as they are defined by the courts.

As a supervisor, the first thing I would do is contact the corporate
legal department. Then, I would talk to the person accused of harassment
and point out the legal situation with an attorney present. There are
corporations that have fired people based on nothing more than an
accusation of harassment. Companies can lose a lot of money on this
issue and most would rather fight a wrongful termination lawsuit
rather than a sexual harassment lawsuit. Of course, I would have a
discussion with the person charging that harassment occurred.

This is a situation where being a writer doesn't have a lot of value. The
terms used can have expensive repercussions and the expert here is a lawyer.


Previous by Author: Re: Style Guide... /These aren't doc. style guides.
Next by Author: Re: Manual evaluation cards
Previous by Thread: Re: "Sexual Harassment" ?
Next by Thread: Re: "Sexual Harassment" ?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads