The vast majority of sex harassment cases we see litigated do not have legal merit and that tends to make management labor attorneys wary of harassment claims … at least those that are litigated. It almost seems as if the individuals with invalid claims are the ones that sue, and those that have legitimate claims may keep silent. Like most employers, it concerns me that employees still experience harassment and that they may not report it. A recent poll suggests that many employees are in fact not reporting concerns.
A recent Huffington Post article discusses the results of their poll…
Thirteen percent of respondents to recent HuffPost/YouGov poll reported having been sexually harassed by a boss or another superior, and 19 percent have been harassed by a co-worker other than a boss or superior.
Of those who said they’d experienced sexual harassment, a full 70 percent said they never reported it.
I am concerned that so many respondents said that they did not report the incident, if indeed they thought that the experience might arise to harassment. That’s a bad report after years of No Harassment programs.
The article noted further:
The HuffPost poll found that one in five women said they’d been harassed by a boss, and one in four said they had been harassed by another coworker. And although women were more likely than men to say that they had been victims of one or both types of sexual harassment, men also reported being sexually harassed — 6 percent said they were harassed by a boss and 14 percent by a coworker.
In addition, 21 percent of respondents to the poll said that they had witnessed someone else being sexually harassed at work. Among those who had, only 33 percent said that they had reported it.
The moral of the story is that as long as we deal with humans, we still have work to prevent and to swiftly and effectively respond to harassment, and not just based on sex.
I am a Senior Partner operating out of the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP, one of the Nation’s oldest and largest management employment and labor firms. My practice is national and keeps me on the road or in one of our 28 offices about 50 percent of the time. I created and co-chair the Firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. I have almost 29 years of experience as a labor lawyer, but rely even more heavily on the experience I gained in working in my family's various businesses, and through dealing with practical client issues.
Employers tell me that they seldom meet an attorney who delivers on his promise to provide practical guidance and to be a business partner. As a result, some executives probably use different terms than “practical” to describe my fellow travelers in the profession.
I don't enjoy the luxury of being impractical because I spend much of my time on shop floors and construction sites dealing with safety, union and related issues which are driven by real world processes and the need to protect and get the most out of one's most important business assets ... its employees. That's one of the reasons that I view safety compliance as a way to also manage problem employees, reduce litigation and develop the type of work environment that makes unions unnecessary. Starting out dealing with union-management challenges and a stint in the NLRB have better equipped me to see the interrelationship of legal and workplace factors.
I am proud also of my experience at Fisher & Phillips, where providing “practical advice” is second only to legal excellence among the Firm’s values.
Our website lists me as having provided counsel for over 225 occasions of union activity, guided unionized companies, and as having managed approximately 450 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses, in virtually every state. I have coordinated complex inspections involving multi-employer sites, corporate-wide compliance, and issues involving criminal referral.
As a full labor lawyer, I oversee audits of corporate labor, HR, and safety compliance. I have responded to virtually every type of day-to-day workplace inquiry, and have handled cases before the EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB, and numerous other state and federal agencies. At F & P, all of us seek to spot issues and then rely upon attorneys in the Firm who concentrate on those areas. No tunnel vision. I teach or speak around 50 times per year to business associations, bar and professional groups, and to individual businesses. I serve on safety committees at three states’ AGC Chapters, teach at the AGC ASMTC