Workplace harassment by CEO -- Help me find article links to send to HR
November 5, 2018 9:37 AM   Subscribe

My coworker has been documenting being harassed (some sexual comments, but mostly just inappropriate boundary issues) by her boss, the CEO, and told HR about it -- but now HR wants her to sit in a room with him and "talk it out." She absolutely doesn't want to do that. Is there any case study or link you can send with how wrong this is to ask her to do this?

I want fodder for her to send to HR with documentation on why putting the two of them together in a room puts an undue burden on her, and how it's generally shitty. Understanding that HR generally works for the organization, is there anything she can send -- like a link to a case study or article -- that explains a better way to handle this? Or any general advice on her response, other than, "I won't do that and I'll quit before I do"?

Thanks in advance.
posted by knownassociate to Work & Money (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
The introduction to this article states concisely why mediation is inappropriate in cases of sexual harassment: because this is a case of abusive power dynamics, and what is needed is fact finding, decision making, and sending a clear message that this behaviour is unacceptable--not finding an amicable resolution.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:47 AM on November 5, 2018 [22 favorites]


Her lawyer can send a letter. That will be the end of HR’s mediation plan.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:13 AM on November 5, 2018 [65 favorites]


It sounds like they are treating this as a misunderstanding or dispute between colleagues instead of the allegation of misconduct it is that should be dealt with as per their disciplinary policy. Given it's against the ceo then I can seem HR being reluctant to classify it as such so she should clearly state that in writing. Realistically this seems like lawyer/union rep terroritory, good luck!
posted by JonB at 10:20 AM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


She might also check her state's employment commission website as this may already be officially Not Okay in that state. A call to their helpline wouldn't go amiss either.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:22 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


She knows some things she doesn't want. It will be helpful if she is able to defie and ask for what she does want.
posted by theora55 at 10:58 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


"I won't do that and I'll quit before I do"?

"I won't do that, I'll have my attorney sue the shit out of YOU, personally, if you try to force me to, and I'll be filing criminal charges against YOU, and the company, if I catch even the slightest hint of retaliatory behaviour against me for saying that.
I expect this harassment to end IMMEDIATELY, as I have the RIGHT to work in a harassment-free workplace. Make it stop, or face the consequences."

Then hand them this:
https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/retaliation.cfm
And maybe these:
https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/harassment.cfm
https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm

Then leave without saying another word. If they attempt to engage you again, pull out your phone and record everything. If anything they say requires a response, inform them that you'll have to have your attorney review the recording and advise you first. That should nip it all in the bud pretty quickly.

I've been in exactly this situation. You need to let them know that YOU know your rights so they don't try any further shenanigans...which they WILL try to do otherwise. Stay strong. Speak softly. Carry a BIG stick.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:08 PM on November 5, 2018 [20 favorites]


The following is not a justification for the CEO's behavior.
The following is not a justification for HR's behavior.
The following is not to diminish the mistreatment your coworker is experiencing.

She could start with "no." Nothing in your post has indicated that HR is insisting on this as the only course of action. It's to HR's benefit to settle this without documentation, so having an informal resolution is an obvious first option for them. However, I'm not sure it's time to bring out the big guns until HR has declined to treat this as a proper sexual harassment complaint.
posted by saeculorum at 12:49 PM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Amassing this "fodder" is pointless. HR isn't an impartial justice system, it is just another department that works for the CEO and does what he says.

What your friend needs is an employment lawyer.
posted by w0mbat at 2:50 PM on November 5, 2018 [9 favorites]


"I won't do that and I'll quit before I do"

First, tell her not to quit, let them fire her for not going to the meeting.
As to what she should say, depends on what she wants. HR wants this to go away, they think the best way to make this happen is if they have this meeting and the CEO gives a non-apology (you misunderstood...). If what she wants is for the CEO to stop the behavior, then she should tell them "I don't want to meet with him to talk about it, that is just more of thing I want to avoid - personal talk with the CEO. Just make sure he stops". If on the other hand she wants him fired or otherwise punished, HR is her enemy, not her friend.
posted by 445supermag at 7:15 PM on November 5, 2018


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