Tag: sexual harassment

Follow this rule, and you’ll never face sexual harassment charges

Rep. Trent Franks

Salem radio talker Mike Gallagher opened the second hour of his radio show today by asking what the rules were regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. The question was posed in response to a breaking story about Congressman Trent Franks resigning after asking female staffers to be surrogate mothers so that he and his wife can have a baby.

National Public Radio reports that Rep. Franks (R-Arizona) gave the following statement regarding his resignation:

“Given the nature of numerous allegations and reports across America in recent weeks, I want to first make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff,” Franks said in a statement. “However, I do want to take full and personal responsibility for the ways I have broached a topic that, unbeknownst to me until very recently, made certain individuals uncomfortable. And so, I want to shed light on how those conversations came about.”

While Rep. Franks may not be guilty of sexual aggression, asking a female member of your staff to have your baby, even through surrogacy, is a really big deal. It’s not something you bring up in the break room or during a staff meeting. It’s even more inappropriate to bring it up in the office during work hours.

Rep. Franks, who has already fathered a set of twins through surrogacy may not have realized how inappropriate his discussions would feel to his staff, but had he followed a simple rule, he would still be looking forward to a long congressional career.

Do not treat any woman in any way that would offend you if committed by another man toward your wife. In other words, if you would have a problem with another man doing something to your wife, then don’t do that thing to other women. Before you make that comment, or put your arm around that co-worker, picture another man saying the same thing, or putting his arm around your wife. If that thought upsets you, then keep your comment and your hands to yourself.

So, let’s take that rule and apply it to some common situations that can happen around the office. First, the obvious. Personal contact.

How would you respond if you walked into your wife’s office to find her boss there with his arm around her? What if you walked into your wife’s office and a male co-worker was massaging her shoulders? Does that thought bother you? (It should.) Then don’t go putting your arm around your female co-workers, and for heaven’s sake, don’t give them massages.

Next, let’s look at verbal communication. Many of the sexual harassment claims made in HR departments center around verbal conduct in the presence of staff. Scripture tells us that the tongue is a fire, a serious statement when you consider the fires that burn in Southern California right now. As a fire, a misguided word can create a small problem that becomes a major tragedy before the flames can be extinguished. Therefore, we should guard our words closely, not only because they can create massive problems for us, but also because scripture commands us.

So, let’s take our rule, do not that which would offend you if another man did it to your wife, and apply it to our speech.

Would you be offended if another man commented about the size of your wife’s backside, or any other part of her anatomy? Would you be offended if another man told your wife that she looked attractive in her dress? What if he told her she had beautiful eyes? Personally, all of those scenarios would bother me. Therefore, I do not make those comments to female co-workers.

I find it interesting that so many accusations of sexual harassment could be avoided if people would just follow this simple rule, which is actually derived from the Golden Rule, which Christ stated in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

Or, as more commonly quoted, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

‘Time’ gets it right

24785167_922801561217477_4010651896843101497_oJanet reports to her evening shift at a fast food franchise where she has worked as an assistant manager for the past six months. Her assignment tonight is the same as every night, organize her crew of teenagers and college students into a well-oiled machine that serves up burgers within 90-seconds of being ordered, all while minimizing food and labor costs.

It’s a good job that pays well above the median household income for the local area, but keeping a crew of 12 teenagers in line can be a headache sometimes. She is flanked by two shift leads, who manage the grill and front counter operations.

Tonight is a wild night. It’s the local high school’s homecoming, business is heavy, and crowds will soon let out from the homecoming football game to swarm the establishment for the post-game meal.

As the crew ramps up for the Friday night rush, Jimmy, an 18-year old cook who has been on the crew for two years, grabs Tommy, another 18 year old cook, and twists his nipple. Both boys laugh, as does much of the crew. Tommy then looks at Janet and says, “Did you see what Jimmy did? Can I do that to you?”

Janet brushes off the statement, but Tommy persists, even advancing toward her. She orders Tommy back on the job, which he ultimately does after cornering her near the office door.

Janet calls the store’s general manager. Tommy is fired. Jimmy is suspended. A memo is posted concerning appropriate conduct in the workplace, the company’s policy is restated, and the crew is reminded that sexual harassment is not tolerated at this establishment.

However, the damage has been done. The crew turns on Janet, many of whom were friends to Tommy and Jimmy. The two shift leads mock Janet by re-enacting the scene to the amusement of the crew.

The company handled the situation properly, but the crew and middle-managers continued the behavior. Thinking that the company could not fire the entire crew and both shift leads, Janet resigns herself to the situation. Her two options were to quit, or continue working and hope the company joke would soon fade. She chose the latter, and eventually things returned to normal.

Time Magazine honored women like Janet when they named “The Silence Breakers” as Person of the Year this year. All who spoke out against sexual harassment and sexual assault under the #MeToo movement on social media are counted as “Silence Breakers.”

The #MeToo movement gained steam nationally in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and continued to build with each new set of allegations leveled at Hollywood elites, politicians and business moguls. Sexual harassment and assault victims, mostly women, posted the hashtag on social media, with some telling their stories.

The #MeToo movement has its share of critics. Some blast the movement as a cheap political stunt, while others make jokes about celebrities like Monica Lewinsky joining the movement.

But to politicize the movement, or turn it into a punchline is to spit in the face of the millions of women who post their #MeToo stories on social media, and the millions more who remain silent.

You see, the #MeToo movement is not about disarming a political party, taking out political opponents, or even “taking it to the man.” It’s about giving people like Janet a voice, raising awareness of an issue that many didn’t know was so widespread, comforting the victims by showing they are not alone, all while sending a message that sexually aggressive behavior will no longer be tolerated.

Without regard to the political affiliations of those who started and promoted the movement, #MeToo is the right choice for Person of the Year. It brought to light a rampant sin that needed to be stopped, and it shaped not only the news cycle, but our cultural perceptions of this issue over the past year.

May we repent of our sexual immorality that has allowed this problem to persist unchecked for so long.