Guest post by Tom Foss.
Harassment involves repeated, unsolicited behavior in which the target is demeaned, threatened, or offended in such a manner that a hostile environment is created for the target.
I wonder if Vjack’s workplace ever includes presentations on sexual harassment. If it does, I wonder if he just spends his time during them sleeping or doodling, because even cursory attentiveness would show what kind of bullshit this is. “Repeated” is often the case (and includes microaggressions that add up to create a hostile environment) but is not a necessary component–and, in fact, the sources I found (like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) don’t include “repeated” as a condition. Instead, the necessary components are severity and pervasiveness (1, 2, 3), with repetition figuring (as one of multiple components) into the “pervasiveness” aspect.
Harassment often involves repeated behavior, but not always. No HR representative worth their salt (and wishing to avoid a legal conflict) would tell a complainant “Well, no, you see, they have to tell you how much better that outfit would look on their floor twice” or “Yes, but if Peterson only called you a ‘lazy w*tb*ck’ once, there’s nothing I can do.”
If we put these pieces together, we’d end up with an understanding of harassment as a pattern of repeated, behavior in which the harasser intentionally acts in such a manner that a reasonable person would find threatening, annoying, intimidating, alarming, or offensive.
More bullshit. Nothing in the law suggests that there must be one “harasser;” in fact, that’s the whole point of the “hostile environment” model of harassment–that there are a variety of aggressions which contribute to an overall air of hostility. The “pattern of repeated behavior” need not come from any one person, but can be a result of many people.
The behavior would need to have no other purpose besides impacting the target in this manner,
Bullshit. I mean, this would be great for harassers, right? “When I told her to bend over to pick up those files, I just wanted the files cleaned up!”
and typically, the behavior would be intrusive in some way. If the target has to go out of his or her way to discover the behavior, odds are pretty good that it is not even close to harassment.
So it’s okay, for instance, to hang pornographic images in the stalls in the men’s room, because women won’t see that, right? It’s okay, even, to write long, lewd screeds about the dirty things one imagines their coworkers would do for money, as long as it’s somewhere in the building that they won’t see? If I trade e-mails with all the white coworkers sharing racist jokes where a PoC coworker is the punchline, it’s okay as long as no one tells him about it?
See how well that flies in a workplace, or a courtroom. Because at the very least, such conduct forms an important piece of the context of more overt harassing behavior, and would serve as evidence of a pattern. Maybe “did you know they photoshopped your head onto a whale’s body and hung it up in the men’s room?” won’t come out until you’re filing a grievance over someone dumping a bag of pork rinds into your cubicle, but it would be pretty bad for the harassers when it did.
It’d also be bad for the employer for allowing/not preventing it in the first place, but that’s a little outside the scope.
Of course, by restricting his discussion to “harassment” and the legal definition thereof, Vjack’s missing that a good deal of this falls under the umbrella of bullying, which is related but distinct.
I’ll note the irony of steve harping about “vanity searches” when so much of the Slymepit oeuvre is about the nonstop monitoring of anything an “FtBully” says so they can snark about it. The mental gymnastics of “there are loads of Ophelia Bensons” while ignoring that only one of them uses those particular pictures and avatars, ought to earn a gold medal. Again, flashbacks to grade school. “You can’t prove we were talking about you!”
As to the list:
- I think you’ll find that repeated/constant name-calling would result in a hostile environment and would form grounds for a harassment case.
- If this were all that were happening, we’d have a very different conversation right now. Then again, if every time a Hispanic employee walked into the lunchroom, his coworkers were all talking about how the “illegals” need to learn English or go home, I think he’d probably have a case too.
- Yeah, guess again–whether it’s Harriet Hall’s exercise or the kids who wear “It’s okay to not be gay” and “straight pride” t-shirts to schools, the effect is to intimidate and contribute to a hostile environment.
- See #3.
- Ah, right, the old “public figures” gambit. It was dumb before, it’s dumb now. And again, if one posted a bunch of “satirical” pictures of their supervisor in a lunchroom depicting them as a portly slave driver to protest working conditions, it doesn’t make it any less of a contribution to a hostile environment, even if it is about an issue important to the community.
- Oh just fuck off. If you can’t “defend yourself” without invoking Nazi Commie Witch-hunters, you don’t have a place in the conversation.
- Depends on the content & context of the review, I suppose.
- See #5.
- Hold on, I’ve got to set up a Vjack parody account so I can tweet things under his name.
- Depends on the content & context. And, of course, the “accuracy.” There’s nothing “inaccurate” about that quote that creationists use about Darwin and the eye, but it doesn’t make their use legitimate.
- Depends on the content and context of the “silly images.” If you’re making those “silly images” to call people old/pigs, then yes, it may contribute to a hostile environment.
- Depends on the content of the forum, now, doesn’t it?
The thing Vjack seems to mistake (going all the way back to his fallacious assumption that there must be one “harasser” involved) is that you can take all these things in isolation. You can’t. The whole point of “hostile environment” harassment is that a number of factors contribute to a sense of hostility and unwelcomeness. Any one of his bullet points there might be fine in isolation. In isolation, most don’t amount to a case for harassment (some, however, clearly do). But the notion of a “hostile environment” considers the larger context and pattern of those instances. And when you have, say, a dozen things that, each considered on its own, might not be harassment alone, happening to the same group of people? Well, that creates (say it with me, folks) a hostile environment for those people.
But it sure was nice of Vjack to compile such a long (albeit woefully incomplete) list of microaggressions, even if he doesn’t understand how they add up into a hostile environment.