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Monday, May 05, 2008

Why Evil HR Lady Likes a Strict Workplace Environment

Okay, first of all, I have a no bad language (Including crude, rude and socially unacceptable language) rule on my blog. You know that. (Or you should. No bad language, please!) And I think a similar rule should be enforced in the workplace. Why? Because it's not polite. And more than politeness, it can get very expensive. From Overlawyered:
The Eleventh Circuit on Monday "held that Ingrid Reeves could proceed to trial with her hostile environment harassment claim -- which is to say, that if the jury agrees with her on the facts, it's entitled to award potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages -- even though the case didn't involve any sexual extortion, any offensive touching, any sexual propositions, or even any insults targeted to her personally. Rather, her complaints, as described by the Eleventh Circuit were chiefly related to "sexually crude language that offended her." Among the sources of that offense, per the court opinion, was "a radio program that was played every morning on the stereo in the office", per Eugene Volokh "a morning program on Birmingham's 107.7 FM during 2002-03, according to one brief".

And you wonder sometime why we HR types put a damper on the fun.

10 comments:

Wally Bock said...

Thanks for the post, Evil. I usually feel like I'm out of touch on this. It bothers me that a best selling business book has a word in the title that, until recently, would stop conversation in police company. I cringe when a young doctor describes a condition with the word "sucks." The words "please" and "thank-you" seem to have disappeared to be replaced by others that used to have shock value but now are merely tasteless.

Rachel - Employment File said...

I bet she never once asked them to change the station.

(army)Wife said...

Radio is heavily governed by the FCC (I used to work for a radio station in college). There are so many things that can't be said on radio still (even things that are okay on TV), so I'd be interested to know what exactly offended her.

HR Godess said...

Chances are if she won a court judgement, she did voice her concerns about what was being played in the office. Typically cases such as these will be thrown out if no complaint was filed or even voiced to the company.

HR Godess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Radish said...

(army)wife--do you ever listen to two-men morning talk shows, with or without the "hot chick" sidekick? I'm unfamiliar with Birmingham, but in most cities there's at least one heavily misogynistic buddy-type morning show full of crude references to sexual practices, aimed at the adolescent-male demographic. The FCC regulates certain words used to describe sexual activities, but hosts can talk about doing them, euphemisms for women's bodies, and how much they hate (fat, ugly, smart, etc) women (who don't gratify them) all they like, none of which is actionable by the FCC.

No radios at my workplace, I just get a daily "hey, did you hear what ____ said?" with a recap over the cube wall.

HR Wench said...

My brother says, "Prove to me that a word is 'bad'. There is no such thing."

Anonymous said...

HR Wench, my brother-in-law does the same thing. He argues that the "bad" word means the same thing as a less offensive word, so why shouldn't he use the word he wants? My answer is alway, if they mean the same thing, why do you insist on using the word that is considered profane or vulgar. If there are no differences between the words, then there should be no compulsion to use words other than those that are socially acceptable. Usually, that thought makes my brother-in-law realize that the words do have different significance, or he wouldn't feel the need to use the bad words.

On a side note, people who use profanity or vulgarity in business (and in life for that matter) immediately go down in my estimation. As an attorney, when opposing counsel starts getting tough by using certain language on the phone, I immediately the lack of quality in that person's professional manner. It hurts their clients and their image.

Anyway, I think we could all stand to have cleaner language and be less offensive in our conversations.

Alex Cantu said...

Time & Place

At home I feel I am allowed to talk however I want about whatever I want. At work it’s totally different because you are representing yourself as a professional as well as your company. I cringe when people curse at work, especially when a client is present. Another issue is personal calls on cell phones at work. If you need to speak to your friends or family, please help yourself out of the office, that’s why they are cordless. I won’t mind as long as I don't have to here your conversation across of the office.

R. Makana Risser Chai said...

Both the plaintiff and the court objected to the "b" word, which even Dr. Laura uses on her radio show!

Are any of you aware of success stories where companies have gone from vulgar to polite? How have they done it? As an attorney, I want to help my clients do that but it would help to have some case studies.