Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Best Post

I taught during Fall 2 and gave my students to give their viewpoint on real live Job Discrimination/Harassment cases that I had handled during my career. I gave them details about the situation and then ask for their recommendations on actions the employee should take. Here is a brief description of the case that caused the widest range of outpouring from the class.

Liu works as a Ramp Agent (called Ramp Rats) for a regional airline in the northeast USA. She is very much in a male dominated world and every one of her co-workers is a male most in their mid to late 20s. Liu is in her late 30s and had been frequently hassled by a younger male (ZACK) in the group. Sexual innuendos are frequently made by the guys and Liu has for the most part just ignored them as she wanted

to "FIT IN."

One night while they were on their way for a break at the local Dunkin Donut, Zack picked her wallet out of her uniform and was tossing it around among the guys. Unknown to her, he had taken her credit card and charged all the purchases at Dunkin Donuts to her card for the whole group taking the break.

They all laughed about it but Liu was rather upset that they had taken her wallet and made unauthorized purchases. She is afraid to report it because then all of the guys in the group might turn against her and make it even more difficult.

What should Liu do?

Statistically I had a pretty well split class between male and female. This allowed me to do a balanced review from both perspectives, or at at least I thought. Life experience has taught me that the two sexes will not always see the situation in the same light and guys will often side with guys. Here however, with an academic community that did not know the parties involved, I found a much stronger viewpoint among the males than the females.

1. Most of the males felt that Liu should have not tried to fit in and take a strong stand against the guys for the harassment that took place. In particular the issue involving the stolen wallet, the guys felt she should have taken them all on by personally addressing it.

2. Some of the guys felt she should file sexual harassment charges against the guy.

3. Females had a split viewpoint, feeling she should file sexual harassment charges against the guy through the correct channels in the company.

4. The remaining females were sympathetic to her and felt she should try and work it out.

What I learned from this experience is because they did not know any of the parties personally, they felt like they should be able to work it out on their own.

This ran very contrary to what took place in the workplace, where the Liu did file a harassment suit against Zack and then one against the company.

This was a great learning experience for me about intellectual rather than personal sympathy thinking.

Great learning

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