Volume 51, June 2005: Harassment

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2005 ISSN # 1545-8873

“You see what power is – holding someone else’s fear in your hand and showing it to them. "” — Amy Tan

“Some people have so much respect for their superiors they have none left for themselves.” — Peter McArthur

“That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what is wrong.” — William J. H. Boetcker

“Though force can protect in an emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration, and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Uphold respect for all people. Have zero tolerance for harassment.
  • Develop fair, transparent processes and practices.
  • Distribute power and leadership.
  • Role model the values of the organization.
  • Emphasize the richness of our differences.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Some of the behaviors that enhanced people’s organizational success in the past, are now illegal, inappropriate, offensive, and unsanctioned in the workplace. Chances are good that you have seen or heard of or even conducted some of these behaviors yourself. We are referring to harassment, which is any behavior of an unwelcome nature, often sexual, that is severe enough to affect a person’s employment and create an abusive, hostile working environment for that person and others around them. Moreover, the employer is liable for such acts of disrespect, even if they are not aware of it or are simply condoning it. Commit to a Plan of Action. Establish zero tolerance policies for discrimination and harassment. Develop company-wide behavior standards. Undertake a workplace relationship skills training. And most of all, model the way!

Frequently Asked Questions

“What really is Harassment?”
n. unwanted approaches (verbal, physical, or visual) and/or repeated unpleasant, degrading and/or sexist remarks directed toward an employee with the implied suggestion that the target’s employment status, promotion or favorable treatment depend upon a positive response and/or “cooperation.” Harassment is a private nuisance, unfair labor practice or, in some states, a civil wrong (tort) which may be the basis for a lawsuit against the individual who made the advances and against the employer who did not take steps to halt the harassment. As one attorney put it, “remember it is your house, your car, and your boat” at stake here. There are two types:
  • Quid pro quo – means “this for that” or trading sexual favors for job benefits.
  • Hostile work environment – where work conditions are so offensive or hostile that the environment becomes abusive and a person’s conditions of employment and/or performance on the job are altered.

Hostile Work Environment extends the definition beyond sexual advances and favors, to any abusive, intimidating act.

“Are women the only protected group?”
Gender implies both genders, regardless of sexual preference. Estimates are that more than 50% of women at work have or will experience harassment, and 15.1% of the complaintsto the EEOC in FY-04 were from men. But the list of other groups is long:

It is probably a more sensible practice to treat all people (employees, vendors, co-workers, customers) as protected, and emphasize our similarities rather than our differences – i.e., promote respect for all people.

“What other behaviors are we talking about, besides asking for sexual favors?”
Here are some examples:
  • teasing, jokes, innuendo, sarcasm
  • derogatory remarks
  • suggestive looks
  • suggestive noises
  • staring, looking up and down
  • spreading rumors or telling tales about a person
  • giving massages (or any unwanted touch)
  • blocking normal movement
  • derogatory gestures
  • inappropriate pictures, posters, cartoons, drawings, screen savers, links to sexual sites
  • pressuring someone to develop or keep a personal relationship
  • bullying
  • gifts
  • mobbing
  • and more …

It all depends on how the act is perceived. Harassment is in the eyes of the beholder. Even in consenting relationships, romance in the workplace can have a negative effect on other co-workers.

“And if you are a victim of harassment?”
Say stop. Inform the harasser that the conduct is “unwelcome and offensive.” Use the feedback formula:

When you ______________ I feel __________________. Please ___ (request)______.

If you say no and the act is repeated, what you have is a “pattern.” A “reasonable person” standard will be applied to your case – which is strengthened by reporting at the time of harassment and in writing. Report the acts to your supervisor, or if the offender is your supervisor, the HR department or someone in upper management. If fear of retaliation is preventing you from speaking up, know that retaliation itself is unlawful and therefore punishable. All of the anti-discrimination statutes enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prohibit retaliation for complaining of discrimination or participating in complaint proceedings. Harassment victims also have the right to collect compensatory and punitive damages under the Civil Rights Act of 1991.


Key Associates offers training on Sexual Harassment Awareness and Prevention.

On-line and on-site training: Online Business Training Course Catalog.

On-line interactive training for supervisors on discriminatory harassment: What Supervisors Need to Know About Discriminatory Harassment.

Complete listing on Harassment Prevention Training programs: Harassment, sexual harassment and respectful workplace training programs

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Stop bullying now: StopBullying.gov.

Guide to state laws on sexual harassment in plain English: Harassment.

A 911 for women, listing resources and agencies: Sexual Harassment.

EEOC, the federal agency that addresses workplace discrimination: Sexual Harassment.



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