A sexually charged workplace - what to do?

Last post 09-06-2008, 9:07 AM by jursini. 3 replies.
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  •  08-21-2008, 10:39 AM 6229

    EliVenk is not online. Last active: 08-11-2011, 5:14 PM EliVenk

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  • A sexually charged workplace - what to do?

    Hello Everyone,

    I am looking for some advice.  I have been with a company (Dallas, TX) about a year and they have not had HR before.  The company is small (50ish) employees and family owned.  It's a manufacuting enviornment with only a handful in the office area.  Most employees have been here more than 15 years+ - we even have two employees that have been here over 50 years and a handful that have been here over 30 years.

    One of the issues that keeps popping up is "who is sleeping with who" - this is an ongoing issue and it affects everyone - even I am being accused of making decisions based on who I am "messing with."  Just to highlight the rampentness of the situation - One day for lunch the CEO/President asked the accountant and I to go out to lunch - the accountant couldn't go, so the CEO/President turned to me and said, "Well we could go by ourselves, but we'll be dating by the time we get back.  It's probably better for you if we have someone else with us."  Keep in mind, both of us are married.

    We are getting ready to have annual reviews (for the first time EVER, they have never done any kind of performance review for any employee) and I'm getting nervous about how this will play out with the supervisors giving feedback to their employees.

    We are also starting to discipline more (there was no procedure for this before) and when we do - whoever is in the room together is accused of "sleeping together."  

    If I even start to bring up discussion around the topic - all I hear is "well this has been going on for 60 years" or "it's a small company."  For a while I just gave up and figured after I had been here a while, and people trusted what I was trying to do, that would be a better time - but I've found even myself in conversations that were totally inappropriate. 

    Any help would be appreciated!


  •  08-21-2008, 11:36 AM 6230 in reply to 6229

    HRforME is not online. Last active: 05-21-2013, 12:08 PM HRforME

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  • Re: A sexually charged workplace - what to do?

    If you can get management/ownership to buy into changing the situation, I would have a sexual harassment policy and training session and try to show them how specific statements could come back as liability on them/the company.  (The state of TX has a great employer handbook website and here is their sexual harassment topic: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/harassment_minimizing_liability.html)

    Also set up a disclosure policy of supervisors having relationships with subordinates. So that the company does know about situations prior to it being used in a claim.   Here is a good article: http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2006/04/03/smallb2.html 

    And one more article, just in case you like to read: http://www.law.com/jsp/tx/PubArticleTXELA.jsp?id=1202422209092  It talks about not having a strict no dating policy, but rather a disclosure policy like I stated above.

  •  08-21-2008, 3:07 PM 6231 in reply to 6229

    BarbieW is not online. Last active: 04-06-2010, 6:29 PM BarbieW

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  • Re: A sexually charged workplace - what to do?

    Sounds like a tough environment to try and get a handle on. Since the company has 50 or so employees it is subject to Title VII (don't know about Texas state law). Sexual harassment and maybe diversity training would be a good idea--you could use BLR's training programs and then customize them for the organization adding the "Who's sleeping with who" example as being a problem. In the end, this behavior has to be changed from the top. The CEO/President and Managers need to stop saying it and also call employees on it when they make this type of reference. Easy to say, but tough to change habits like these. You could incorporate training with distribution of a new policy too.
  •  09-06-2008, 9:07 AM 6390 in reply to 6231

    jursini is not online. Last active: 09-06-2008, 9:10 AM jursini

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  • Re: A sexually charged workplace - what to do?

      Are the employees of this company able to get any work done? Measuring productivity is a great direction to take.  However, you will still have to be prepared to deal with the issues that come up due to these behaviors. Start by educating yourself.  The sources listed by the other posts are very good ones, if anything, you should do your homework no matter what.

    The CEO must be on board.  Everything trickles down from the top!!  So if this has been allowed for so long, what does that say about him and his expectations?  Chances are, he could use your help.  He probably has not taken the time himself.  Either way, he has to see the importance of this.

    This is a good opportunity to assist him by educating him on the employment laws, liabilitiles and the options available to make changes internally that will help protect the company. 

    If he does not buy into this, you will need to discuss what his true expectations of your role are. 

    Good luck!

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