Not that I think it’s weird that a brokerage firm chief executive would pin a female clerk on the floor by putting his shoe on her breast (the right one, if you must know), or that some insurance company man in California would put a sample of his semen in a female colleague’s water bottle. Twice.
But it did get my attention when I started leafing through this year’s press releases from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and found a case in which a supervisor allegedly said that women should outfit themselves in Vaseline, and nothing else; one in which a manager in human resources (yes, human resources) allegedly inquired as to the colour of an assistant’s panties; and a case against a company president who the commission says pulled a subordinate’s pants down in front of her co-workers.
Smart boss, that pull-the-pants-down guy. He settled with the commission for US $21,500 and a promise sexual harassment training for employees. I hope he’s in the room when training starts.
Breast-grabbing, bottom-pinching and other workplace humiliations have declined in the past decade, but that probably offers little comfort to the sewing machine operator who stood in front of her co-workers in Texas after the boss removed her pants. A recent rash of weird harassment stories is a reminder that while fewer workers are going to the commission with harassment complaints (12,696 last year, down from 15,222 a decade ago), there is still a lot of abuse going on. An ounce of prevention would have reduced the number of reported workplace harassment cases.