Angels in the Workplace? Accusations of Harassment Leave the Navy Feeling Blue

For a human resources professional or high level executive, some of the worst possible terms to land in the subject line of an email include “porn,” “homophobia,” and “harassment.” Each on its own is enough to give upper management a small heart attack. Unfortunately, the United States’ most famous aerial performers recently faced this triumvirate of HR evil.

According to a recent CNN.com report, the Blue Angels aerial performers have been accused of flying with pornographic material in their cockpits, making homophobic slurs, and constantly degrading women. The CNN report stated that at one point things got so bad that an image of a male genitalia adorned a Blue Angels hangar. This image was so large that it was detected by Google Maps satellites. All of this behavior allegedly created a hostile working environment, according to a recent complaint against the organization.

After the aforementioned tomfoolery was tolerated within the Blue Angels for years (and even arguably perpetuated by high-level commanders), a service member filed a complaint in 2014 for the “toxic” atmosphere that had been created within the Blue Angels. Although an internal inquiry is currently underway, it is easy to foresee the likely forthcoming lawsuits. 

Offensive and Harassing Conduct Can Take Many Forms

As the Blue Angels case study shows, harassing workplace conduct reaches far beyond degrading comments toward women.  In fact, one of the more common forms of harassment allegations stem from offensive imagery on computer monitors and within emails. Further, many employees believe it is acceptable to have off-color discussions about sex, sexual orientation, and gender so long as the person they are conversing with has the same or similar views. This belief is not only antiquated, it fails to take into account the fact that anyone could overhear the offensive comments or see the offensive imagery, thereby creating the basis for a sex harassment claim. It also fails to consider that a person may feel under pressure not to complain about offensive conduct. 

In today’s litigious society it is ever important for human resources managers and executives to remain up to date as to the types of conduct they need to watch out for to ensure an effective workplace.   

Online Sexual Harassment Training Programs Can Prevent Hostile Working Environments

The standard argument coming from the Blue Angels side will likely be that higher-ups did not know what was going on. Unfortunately, hiding one’s head in the sand is unlikely to be successful under any set of facts, much less when a pervasive environment of sexual comments and behavior was allowed to persist. The Navy has since set up awareness training from various equal opportunity programs to rid the Blue Angels of the smut. This case just goes to show that anti-harassment training is necessary in every organization, particularly for managers and supervisors. Sadly, no organization is immune to conduct and circumstances that can lead to claims of sexual harassment and other forms of unlawful harassment

Syntrio, Inc. specializes in providing sexual harassment prevention and HR compliance training in an extremely comprehensive yet cost-effective and time sensitive manner. Contact us today at 888-289-6670 to discuss the ways Syntrio, Inc. can help your supervisors and HR Professionals ensure that they are up to date with state and federal laws regarding employment equality and workplace diversity training.

 

 

Settling Sex Harassment Cases is an Expensive “Proposition”

Sex Harassment Lawsuits: “It Won’t Happen To Me.” 

Many business owners or high-level executives believe they have the business acumen to avoid hiring managers who will commit egregious acts of sexual harassment in the workplace. They use hiring tactics they feel will be enough for sexual harassment prevention. Unfortunately, it is impossible to truly know everything about a manager, and it is even harder to keep tabs on changes in the manager’s personality as time passes. As such, when an employee brings a claim of sexual harassment, the frequent course of action advised by management-side employment attorneys is to settle the case.

Settling Lawsuits Brings Unnecessary Costs

On average, the cost of settling a civil sexual harassment lawsuit ranges from four to five figures. Nevertheless, many attorneys for plaintiffs boast claims of six and seven figure settlements on their websites, and these figures do not take into account the high-profile seven and eight figure verdicts that are reported when these cases go to trial. While paying out a five figure settlement may be seen by some business owners as “the high cost of doing business,” such settlements set a precedent within the workplace that sexual harassment will be allowed to persist so long as the employer is willing to “pay off” the victims. This is not a culture that leads to a productive workplace. Conversely, when employees know that managers are receiving proper training to avoid incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, a more productive culture is fostered.

Case Study: New Jersey Township Pays $25,000 Settlement to EMT Sexually Harassed by Deputy Chief

On May 27, 2014, the South Jersey Times reported that a deputy sent a subordinate employee text messages propositioning her for sex. After the employee complained to the Department, the deputy asked to speak with her alone. A Department investigation revealed that the employee may have had a consensual relationship with the deputy, but it was unclear.

This case presents a classic “he said-she said” case of sexual harassment. The text messages were obviously damaging to the Township’s case, yet there was evidence that the two were involved in a consensual relationship. Amid uncertain facts, the Township paid a $25,000 settlement to resolve the case. Importantly, the Township did not have any policy for sexual harassment training at any time relevant to the aforementioned incident. Had the Department implemented such a policy, the alleged harassing conduct and resulting lawsuit could have been easily prevented.

Sexual Harassment Training Can Save Costs and Increase Employee Productivity

With the advent of e-learning and online compliance training, developing sexual harassment prevention policies has become easier and more cost-effective than ever. Online training companies like Syntrio, Inc. provide training courses and materials with respect to sexual harassment and retaliation prevention.

Syntrio, Inc. specializes in providing sexual harassment prevention and HR compliance training in an extremely comprehensive yet cost-effective and time sensitive manner. Contact us today at 888-289-6670 to discuss the ways Syntrio, Inc. can help your supervisors and HR professionals ensure that they are up to date with state and federal laws regarding equality and workplace diversity training.