Managing Sexual Harassment -- By: Lee Taylor

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 05:2 (Spring 1991)
Article: Managing Sexual Harassment
Author: Lee Taylor

Managing Sexual Harassment

Lee Taylor

Lee Taylor is a businesswoman who has earned much from personal experience, both in Christian organizations and in the largest of the FORTUNE 500 companies. She has served as employee or as consultant to 10-12 such companies across the U.S. and occasionally overseas.

This is the second at two articles. The first appeared in the Winter 1991 issue.

A number of years ago, I worked for an evangelical Christian organization. We had a staff lounge where we gathered. I was one of a very few women with a position entitling me to use of the lounge, a place where ideas were exchanged and a sense of involvement in the work of the organization developed. In the more relaxed moments, I was subjected to much sexual innuendo. Comments were often made that got me all hot and bothered. I probably blushed deeply.

One day, I had on a little suit with a simple round neckline and a designer zipper all the way up the front. The zipper had a decorative ring. The men were joking about what would happen if they pulled my zipper down. While it was not obvious, I had a blouse under the suit jacket. I pulled the zipper down, while they watched in shock until they realized I did in fact have a blouse on. That was the end of the inappropriate comments. Today, in many states, this incident would very likely be grounds for a law suit, assuming I had made appropriate protests against the earlier comments.

More recently, a married male manager of another Christian organization seemed inappropriately interested in several of the women in an office. One day, a woman with some management responsibility, whom we will call Karen, inadvertently handled a situation with a second woman, whom we will call Rhoda, in such a way that it could have been read as revealing this man’s interest in Rhoda.

The manager became so angry with Karen that he grabbed her by the throat and shook her violently. He claims it was all in fun. But Karen was so upset by the incident that she required serious counseling for severe sleeplessness, depression, loss of weight and lack of concentration. The man denied any serious intent and for months the organization supported him rather than Karen.

The Manager’s Responsibility

This is not an article about the role of women in the church or in the workplace. It is about managerial responsibility to safeguard women on the job. Our laws today say that employers have that responsibility. They must ensure that women are not unfairly treated as sex objects, and that sexuality not interfere with normal work patterns and practices.

Few men are aware of how their behavior effects the women around them. What some men think of...

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