Sexual harassment in the workplace is about a lot more than telling a co-worker she has nice boobs.
A California woman was sickened twice by something in her water bottle at work. The second time, she had the water bottle tested and it turns out a co-worker had ejaculated into her water bottle. Twice.
Yep, you read that right. There was semen in her water bottle.
Everyone get through that without puking?
On Tuesday, Michael Kevin Lallana, 31, pled not guilty and is free on $500 bail. His victim will probably never be free of the vile assault.
Sexual harassment is always disgusting, but this takes it to a whole other level and reminds us that even with all the seminars and political correctness in the workplace, harassment is alive and well.
In 1991, when Clarence Thomas was in the process of judicial confirmation for the Supreme Court, Anita Hill, a former colleague, famously accused him of sexual harassment.
At the time, she was widely disbelieved, though that has since changed for some. She accused him, among other things, of asking if someone put a pubic hair on his can of coke.
Clarence Thomas may have been the first to think of it, but Lallana really took it to the next level of lewdness.
Sexual harassment is an odd thing and the corporate trainings with their poorly scripted "training videos" and short seminars on the issue really make a mockery of the more serious concerns. Sexual harassment is very clearly defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as:
"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment."
So, a married colleague telling a joke that is sexual in nature, but in no way intimidating, is not sexual harassment. But by the standards of today's corporate climate? It is.
It seems like in our haste to protect people from intimidation, we have gone too far in the other direction.
After long years spent in news rooms, I grew used to the jocularity and bonding that comes with late nights, bad food, crude jokes, and F-bombs. Old-school news rooms breed the kind of close relationships that make going into work fun. PC corporate training workshops? Not so much.
Sexual harassment is an incredibly serious offense. That cannot be downplayed. And this case in California goes even beyond "sexual harassment" and falls more into the sexual assault category. It's wrong, disgusting, and perverted.
On the other hand, light flirtation is fun. It makes coming into work fun. And it isn't the same thing.
What do you think constitutes sexual harassment?
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