Have you ever been wrongly accused of sexual harassment?

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hale_bopp
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14 Aug 2010, 8:22 pm

I think a lot of these claims are bogus and some girls need to get over themselves quite frankly. Sorry if this offends people.
But self righteousess can be taken too far.



JohnisBlind
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14 Aug 2010, 8:31 pm

pschristmas wrote:
GoatOnFire wrote:
Back in high school I was the recipient of what may be the stupidest sexual harassment accusation ever. Some girl was following me around making fun of my backpack. I didn't find a verbal response worth the breath so I just flipped her the bird. Later, I get called in for an accusation of sexual harassment. It was about the middle finger, apparently the bird can possibly be interpreted as a phallic symbol. I was suspended for three days because some vindictive b***h realized that sexual harassment rules are so stupid that you can say that you felt uncomfortable because you claimed that you thought the bird was roughly shaped like a penis and get someone in trouble. Not that out of school suspension wasn't pretty sweet, I hated that school.


Since "flipping the bird" is symbolic for "f--- y--," there is penile symbolism in it. However, any reasonable person knows that it is most commonly used for telling someone where to get off, just as the verbal phrase is commonly used. The school badly over-reacted, probably because someone -- either the girl or her parents -- used the "L" word --lawsuit.


It looks like more than one person that I've had conversation with on this forum has had an experience like this.



JohnisBlind
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14 Aug 2010, 8:39 pm

hale_bopp wrote:
I think a lot of these claims are bogus and some girls need to get over themselves quite frankly. Sorry if this offends people.
But self righteousess can be taken too far.


Sometimes events are misunderstood. We as human beings have a limited ability to perceive things and often things are not correctly understood. Sadly when we apply that incredibly non-controversial reality to the sexual aspect of human reality people are unable to see that simple truth.



DW_a_mom
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14 Aug 2010, 10:40 pm

CrinklyCrustacean wrote:
DW_a_mom wrote:
The reality is, you don't have to engage in actual sexual harassment for someone to feel that they have sexually harassed by you.


So you are saying that all a girl has to do is claim that you sexually harrassed her, and you will get fired even if there is no evidence to support her claim? How does that work?

As for not knowing whether he ever understood what happened, why didn't you sit down with him and try to explain?


You didn't read the whole post. Regardless of what he meant, those women had valid reason to feel sexually harassed. It affected their work performance and led to talented employees leaving the company. Very ugly all around.

It wasn't my company and it wasn't my call. I was in a higher position than him, but not his supervisor; different departments. I knew him and I knew those women. Everyone was telling the truth. I did tell the lawyers I was convinced he had meant no harm, and that from his view his version of events was quite true, and I wasn't the only one to stand up for him in that way. But, realistically, a supervisor cannot spend the day denigrating his staff, and then treat them as friends in the evening, and even less should a supervisor on an out of town trip be inviting staff into his hotel room, even if it is supposed to be watch TV; the only place to sit is usually on a bed, and that is awkward at minimum. If he hadn't been fired for sexual harassment, he would have been fired for extremely bad judgment. He messed up.

Contacting him at that point would have been inappropriate on my part. I was still an employee there, and couldn't be sure how any overture would have been interpreted. It is my hope that once all the lawsuits were settled one of the owners had a beer with him and a nice long talk; I think that is the kind of thing they would have done, but it all moved out of my hands.


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GoatOnFire
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14 Aug 2010, 10:45 pm

pschristmas wrote:
Since "flipping the bird" is symbolic for "f--- y--," there is penile symbolism in it.

My use of it meant "f**k off" more than "f**k you." Her actual complaint was about the physical shape of the gesture. It was absolutely ridiculous arguing for an hour with the school administrators in their office that although the middle finger vaguely resembles a penis that there is almost no resemblance for the clenched part of the hand to testicles. They concluded that because the fingernail was pink and at a glance similar to the head of a circumcised penis it was close enough. So there you go people, wear gloves because your fingers look kind of like cocks.
pschristmas wrote:
However, any reasonable person knows that it is most commonly used for telling someone where to get off, just as the verbal phrase is commonly used. The school badly over-reacted, probably because someone -- either the girl or her parents -- used the "L" word --lawsuit.

There had recently been a mandatory sexual harassment seminar at the school and there was an epidemic of some of the most amusing sexual harassment accusations I have ever seen. I think she was just doing it because it was happening all around.
hale_bopp wrote:
I think a lot of these claims are bogus and some girls need to get over themselves quite frankly. Sorry if this offends people.
But self righteousess can be taken too far.

Thank you.
Alycat wrote:
As for what was 'wrong' with hitting on them - it's fine if they are interested in you, but if they send out the signals that they aren't and you keep going, then it is a problem. Or if they've sent out those signals in a previous situation and you try again it's a problem.
I'm not saying you thought 'hey I know they don't like me but I'm going to try anyway', you might just have not picked up on their signals.

And people wonder why some guys on this board are terrified to approach women. Some of those signals are pretty subtle, and as aspies we are worse at reading them than most. The risk is more than just being told "no."


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JohnisBlind
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14 Aug 2010, 11:08 pm

GoatOnFire wrote:
And people wonder why some guys on this board are terrified to approach women. Some of those signals are pretty subtle, and as aspies we are worse at reading them than most. The risk is more than just being told "no."



That, and I still haven't gotten a clear response about what it was that they could have perceived me doing to them that is offensive. Since I stopped talking to them after a few sentences you can't say I did anything wrong.

I only have a vague sense that if your too forward then what your doing is wrong, but no explanation for why what I am doing is wrong. What is so wrong with openly expressing your sexuality in the first place?



hyperlexian
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14 Aug 2010, 11:15 pm

JohnisBlind wrote:
GoatOnFire wrote:
And people wonder why some guys on this board are terrified to approach women. Some of those signals are pretty subtle, and as aspies we are worse at reading them than most. The risk is more than just being told "no."



That, and I still haven't gotten a clear response about what it was that they could have perceived me doing to them that is offensive. Since I stopped talking to them after a few sentences you can't say I did anything wrong.

I only have a vague sense that if your too forward then what your doing is wrong, but no explanation for why what I am doing is wrong. What is so wrong with openly expressing your sexuality in the first place?

we explained this already.


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DW_a_mom
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14 Aug 2010, 11:26 pm

JohnisBlind wrote:
What is so wrong with openly expressing your sexuality in the first place?


In the workplace to a co-worker? EVERYTHING. A workplace takes the most vanilla path in order to respect everyone's sensitivities and cultural differences. If it doesn't relate to work, the weather, or something else completely vanilla, you don't talk about it with a co-worker. That is the social rule; you don't have to agree with it, you just have to follow it.


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CrinklyCrustacean
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15 Aug 2010, 5:54 am

DW_a_mom wrote:
You didn't read the whole post. Regardless of what he meant, those women had valid reason to feel sexually harassed. It affected their work performance and led to talented employees leaving the company. Very ugly all around.

I did read the whole post and you said he was innocent. If you'd said he got fired for being a bully, well that would be different since you said he bordered on tyrannical. Going back to this bit:
DW_a_mom wrote:
The reality is, you don't have to engage in actual sexual harassment for someone to feel that they have been sexually harassed by you.

How can this statement be justified? If you don't engage in sexual harrassment, their emotions are unfounded and their claims invalid. To say otherwise just doesn't make sense.
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It wasn't my company and it wasn't my call. I was in a higher position than him, but not his supervisor; different departments. [...] Contacting him at that point would have been inappropriate on my part. I was still an employee there, and couldn't be sure how any overture would have been interpreted. It is my hope that once all the lawsuits were settled one of the owners had a beer with him and a nice long talk; I think that is the kind of thing they would have done, but it all moved out of my hands.

Okay, fair enough, I thought you were his supervisor.
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If he hadn't been fired for sexual harassment, he would have been fired for extremely bad judgment.

I've tried looking at it from both perspectives and from what you have said, it sounds like he made some bad decisions. The hotel thing was definitely inappropriate, but I wouldn't call it sexual harrassment. Then again, I don't know all the details so I'll have to defer to you on this one.



JohnisBlind
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15 Aug 2010, 11:59 am

DW_a_mom wrote:
If he hadn't been fired for sexual harassment, he would have been fired for extremely bad judgment. He messed up.


An accusation of sexual harassment is serious business. It is something that stigmatizes a person for the rest of their life. For somebody who hasn't been diagnosed with autism you seem to have an obliviousness to social reality that borders on the pathological.



SabbraCadabra
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15 Aug 2010, 12:41 pm

Pistonhead wrote:
I had that happen, I was playing tag and I went to tap a girl's shoulder when she was walking backwards and I missed. Like holy sh** I accidentally touched her boob! Tell the principal!


Yeah, except I didn't brush them at all, accidentally or otherwise. But they swore that I intentionally groped them or whatever :x


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JohnisBlind
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15 Aug 2010, 2:35 pm

SabbraCadabra wrote:
Pistonhead wrote:
I had that happen, I was playing tag and I went to tap a girl's shoulder when she was walking backwards and I missed. Like holy sh** I accidentally touched her boob! Tell the principal!


Yeah, except I didn't brush them at all, accidentally or otherwise. But they swore that I intentionally groped them or whatever :x


Sometimes girls can be bullies.



League_Girl
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15 Aug 2010, 2:46 pm

Sometimes I wonder if the girl can just claim she was sexually harassed even though she full well knew that's wasn't the man's intent and she decided to pretend she is upset and pretend she felt that way just so the man get in trouble.



JohnisBlind
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15 Aug 2010, 2:51 pm

League_Girl wrote:
Sometimes I wonder if the girl can just claim she was sexually harassed even though she full well knew that's wasn't the man's intent and she decided to pretend she is upset and pretend she felt that way just so the man get in trouble.


It can happen. There is a huge risk involved with doing that. What is more likely is the tendency of group think and a tendency among people to project things that are not true just because they don't like them or understand them.



DW_a_mom
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16 Aug 2010, 2:02 pm

JohnisBlind wrote:
DW_a_mom wrote:
If he hadn't been fired for sexual harassment, he would have been fired for extremely bad judgment. He messed up.


An accusation of sexual harassment is serious business. It is something that stigmatizes a person for the rest of their life. For somebody who hasn't been diagnosed with autism you seem to have an obliviousness to social reality that borders on the pathological.


No, you refuse to understand the reality of the world around you, even when told in black and white, "that is the social rule."

NO ONE was told the reason he was fired; if you read the workplace board, you'll understand why. The firing was an appropriate response to a lawsuit (or threatened lawsuit) from one of the women, and the ONLY response that legally could have been given; 3 separate women had had similar experiences. He quickly found a job with a client who was NEVER told what happened, unless HE choose to do so. There would be legal complications to being overly forth coming with that information and, thus, it isn't given. The whole thing never went to trial, and he was never slandered in public; I guess all parties saw the wisdom in not letting the disputes get that far.

Sometimes the best that can be made from a situation is for everyone to simply learn what not to do next time.

He would only have carried the stigma if the accusations had gone to court and the charges proven. It did not get that far. There is much that happens called "something in between." I said he was fired; I did not say there was a public spectacle (although he unwisely threatened to make one.)

I told you this story because this is a REAL LIFE example of how things play out. You shouldn't be arguing with it; you should be LEARNING from it. I"M NOT THE ONE WRITING THE RULES. I am just the messenger and, yes, I most certainly DO understand all the implications on all sides, fair or not.

As a manager I went through extensive training on how exactly what sexual harassment is and how the laws apply. I'm given you a perspective not everyone on this board is privy to. Accept it for what it is: potentially valuable insight.

You can BET that my former co-worker would have been grateful to know how things would be perceived long before he innocently got himself in trouble, and would have done everything in his power to NOT act the way he did had he known.


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Last edited by DW_a_mom on 16 Aug 2010, 8:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

DW_a_mom
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16 Aug 2010, 2:15 pm

JohnisBlind wrote:
League_Girl wrote:
Sometimes I wonder if the girl can just claim she was sexually harassed even though she full well knew that's wasn't the man's intent and she decided to pretend she is upset and pretend she felt that way just so the man get in trouble.


It can happen. There is a huge risk involved with doing that. What is more likely is the tendency of group think and a tendency among people to project things that are not true just because they don't like them or understand them.


It can happen. With any luck, managers know how to sift through what they are told. But, in real life, it RARELY does happen, for making false accusations is pretty serious career suicide. The number of times a guy thinks he has been falsely accused well outnumber the times a guy really had been. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with the situations that don't involve firing people or ruining careers, when caught early enough.

That was not the case in the situation I described; no one was lying or intentionally misunderstanding, no one "gained" anything, and the situation had progressed too far to be remedied solely within the company.

My advice to any man who finds himself in that situation is to take a long, hard, humble look at how your own actions can be perceived by someone with a different background and mindset than yours. Protect yourself legally, and even to any friends or family that might get whiff of it, but do NOT dismiss the possibility that there is a truth you don't wish to see. You can harass without intending to, and if you have done that by accident, you should want to know and should ask for help in fixing it. Make changes before it escalates out of control and becomes something you will face consequences for.


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