The Practical Employer
#MeToo Might Want to Consider #MenToo
Cases emerge that share two defining characteristics: men exerting power over other men through sexually degrading misconduct.
According to the Washington Post, nearly one in five — about 17 percent — of harassment complaints filed with the EEOC come from men.
And many involve same-sex harassment.
- Example 1: “A group of salesmen were subjected to severe and repeated sexual harassment by male managers. The unlawful conduct included the touching and grabbing of genitals, pelvic thrusting on the buttocks of male employees, exposing of a manager’s penis in the workplace, crude sexual language, crude sexual jokes, and referring to male employees in sexually obscene and derogatory terms.” Although the employer had an anti-harassment policy in place, the lawsuit alleged that “complaints by the salesmen went unheeded by management for nearly a year,” and “management generally dismissed the offensive conduct as ‘horseplay’ or ‘locker room antics.’ ”
- Example 2: “A male floor supervisor made sexually charged insults and innuendos on a near-daily basis and also engaged in unwelcome grabbing, groping and humping the victims, attempting penetration of male employees’ buttocks with a broomstick, and kissing. Although members of management received numerous complaints from the employees about the harassment,” the employer “failed to take action to stop the harassment.”
- Example 3: “A former lot manager … subject[ed] a class of men to egregious forms of sexual harassment, including shocking sexual comments, frequent solicitations for oral sex, and regular touching, grabbing, and biting of male workers on their buttocks and genitals.” The manager further retaliated against anyone who objected.
- Example 4: “The head chef … frequently pinched or squeezed his subordinates’ private parts, flicked their genitals with his bare hands, and groped them from behind, [and] even used kitchen utensils from the restaurant to touch his victims’ genitals through their clothing.” Further, “several managers … knew what was happening well before formal charges were filed but did nothing to stop it.”
You should see a pattern developing. These cases all share two defining characteristics. Men exerting power over other men through sexually degrading misconduct, and the employer either not taking complaints seriously or not doing anything to stop the misconduct.
It’s been 20 years since the Supreme Court declared same-sex harassment unlawfulunder Title VII, yet the problem persists. According to the Washington Post article, the issue typically is not based in sexual desire but in power. It’s about domination and humiliation.
Just because the #MeToo movement is being driven by women does not mean that it excludes men.
Bottom line — no means no, no matter the gender of the victim or the perpetrator. And the sooner employers understand this point, the sooner they can implement steps to incorporate same-sex harassment into their anti-harassment policies and training, and move towards eliminating same-sex harassment from the workplace.
Jon Hyman is a partner at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Cleveland. Comment below or email email@example.com. Follow Hyman’s blog at Workforce.com/PracticalEmployer.