Bb - Workplace Harassment
Q: I've been into the manager's office three times and
the HR office twice to complain about her harassing
me - and used the word harassment. My manager
has *declined* to start investigating the problem
as a harassment case.
The question is "has your company defined her behaviour as harassment
in its manuals?" If not, then the case is harder to prove. If they do,
then your case is stronger as they are in violation of their own rules
as well as those of Minesotta.
A: Probably so, but you'll have to be willing to be outed for it to work. If you do go to trial with it, you can expect to hear the following defenses based on prior cases: 1) "It was the truth, so there was no harassment" Simply saying that a gay person is gay isn't enough to show harassment; instead a real, provable harm must be shown (e.g., loss of income or opportunity). Counter with concrete examples whenever possible. Showing a consistent pattern of ongoing abuse that creates a "hostile work environment" is also a good counter. 2) "He didn't complain through the right channels" Companies with established guidelines use employees' unfamiliarity with the process to shield themselves; it rarely plays well, but is usually trotted out. Counter with a well-documented "Pearl Harbor file" and by asking several different managers to describe the "proper channels" - odds are they won't give a consistent reply because they don't know what the procedure is. 3) "He wasn't that good and is using this to avoid demotion/firing" This shibboleth is most effective in states with so-called "Right to work" laws that allow employees to be fired with no notice. The most effective counters are employee records showing good potential and documents showing that termination proceedures were started after the harassment claim .  "It was just in fun" This is the defense used by the roughnecks in Louisiana when they harassed a straight man; they still lost their case. The best counter is to repeat their words/jokes verbatim in court .
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