Business to Business Online Expos


DO NOT give an office massage

handsoffEven though the workplace is getting a little more comfortable today, the sexual harassment laws are getting more strict.

I applaud the efforts to make companies and job sites less sleezy and better working environments because back when I first got into business, I witnessed some interoffice behavior that would make your head spin. Chauvinistic, hurtful, rude and crude actions between managers and employees, employees and employees, even employees and customers.

Corporate reaction to sexual harassment really started taking form in the mid 90s. I remember working for a Los Angeles radio station back then, a time when I encountered my first taste of how serious companies were dealing with this issue.


I was a radio host and producer of a popular morning show, I believe it was 1996.  There was a sales assistant in the office where I worked who I always bumped into day after day. It quickly became obvious that this young woman had a thing for me because she started leaving me naughty little love notes in my office message box.

When I say, “naughty little love notes”, I mean, very detailed descriptions and fantasies of where she was hoping to go with our interoffice friendship. The wording was graphic, crude and something that could have been taken from the pages of an erotic romance novel.

I was in my 20s, I was single and I didn’t have the relationship with God that I have today. In other words, at that moment in my life, receiving communication like this didn’t bother me at all. In fact, it kind of flattered me.

Me and the Program Director [my boss] were tight. I was able to talk with him about anything because producing content for the radio show opened up all kinds of conversations. That said, knowing we were boyz, I took some of these notes to him so that he could get a kick out of them with me.

Upon reading them, he laughed [a little uncomfortably] with me and then we went our separate ways and finished our work day.

The following morning, I got called into the General Manager’s office. The GM was sitting at his desk, the PD was there, a company attorney was there and the woman in question was also in there, her head down and crying.

I was confused. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. I didn’t hook up with this woman. I wondered for a minute if I was being set up by her. I concocted a thought that since I never accepted her advances, she turned on me and was trying to take me down. People are crazy like that. It’s a fair thought.

The GM started speaking, “Wayne, we brought you in here because it has been brought to our attention that you have been a victim of sexual harassment.”

“Sexual Harassment?” I asked. “I was not sexually harassed.”

The lawyer then opened up a folder with copies of the letters that this woman wrote to me. They had prepared a whole legal file against her and they were trying to get me to sign off on the complaint so that they could fire her.

“I thought sexual harassment was unwanted advances in the workplace,” I queried. Then I made sure to let them know that “I didn’t have any issues with her advances.”  I really didn’t. Being young and immature, I actually thought it was kind of funny.

Their legal team gave me an explanation that moved in circles and didn’t really make any sense to me. I was, however, able to quell the situation and get them to just give this woman a warning, instead of firing her.

At the time I thought their response was ridiculous. I felt it was a corporate overreaction and unnecessary. However, as I grew up in business, I started understanding the possible ramifications I could have brought to that company had they not documented it. If I had ever taken issue with that company, I could have pulled out those letters as a smoking gun and made them pay for it.

They needed to protect themselves.


That was an extreme and obvious example of a sexual harassment situation. What about the simple ones? The little things like when a co-worker asks you to give her a neck massage. That happens in just about every office.

DO NOT give an office massage! Any kind touching in that manner will get you written up or fired for sexual harassment; even if your co-worker asked for it.

Take a look at what The CA Fair Employment and Housing says on the subject:

They define sexual harassment as unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser. The following is a partial list of violations:

  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
  • Making or threatening reprisals after a negative response to sexual advances
  • Visual conduct: leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of suggestive objects or pictures, cartoon or posters
  • Verbal conduct: making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, and jokes
  • Verbal sexual advances or propositions
  • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, suggestive or obscene letters, notes or invitations

The three most common types of sexual harassment complaints filed with the Department are:

  • An employee is fired or denied a job or an employment benefit because he/she refused to grant sexual favors or because he/she complained about harassment. Retaliation for complaining about harassment is illegal, even if it cannot be demonstrated that the harassment actually occurred.
  • An employee quits because he/she can no longer tolerate an offensive work environment, referred to as a “constructive discharge” harassment case. If it is proven that a reasonable person, under like conditions, would resign to escape the harassment, the employer may be held responsible for the resignation as if the employee had been discharged.
  • An employee is exposed to an offensive work environment. Exposure to various kinds of behavior or to unwanted sexual advances alone may constitute harassment.

I brought this blog into play so that you could take a moment to look in the mirror. Have you been “getting away” with office behavior [management or employee] that you know could eventually come back to haunt you. Remember, the playful fun co-worker today can easily turn on you tomorrow if the company wrongs them in any way.

Keep it on the straight and narrow when you’re at work–especially if you’re in management. The laws written towards supervisors harassing employees are hardcore and in some cases serve up criminal punishment. It’s not worth it.

You go to work to work. Save the play time for after work.

Your future will thank you for it.

Go get ’em Tiger!


My Boss and the Bullet in My Head

bulletEmployers are constantly under fire, as of late, because modern day employees are so sensitive and easily offendable.

Calm down.  If you have an issue with my opening statement as an employee in today’s workplace, don’t fret. Maybe you’re different. However, if you truly were bothered by my experienced observation, chances are this post is probably about you.

I’m all for pushing management to be more encouraging, implementing policies that restrict racism, sexual harassment, dangerous work environments and crude language, but some stipulations in today’s state-regulated office space really are a bit over the top. So ridiculous in my opinion that today’s staffer has been inspired to only work in conditions where they are coddled. In fact, if pushed, they may be moved to file for disability on the grounds of mental anguish.

Well, what did you expect?  You asked them to do their job. The job they were hired to do.  How dare you?!

I’m not writing this post to criticize anyone that has truly been wronged on the job. If there is a true injustice being done at work, that’s not cool at all.  I’ve been a victim of very bad upper management handling before–on several occasions.  And each time, I handled the situation the same way I handle myself outside of the work place. I address the issue and see if we can work through it. If we can’t, I move on.

“But I need this job to take care of my family,” you may have just thought to yourself.

I get that.  I’m a husband and father who can’t afford to take a day off because we gotz more month than money! [Yeah, I know I said, “gotz”…I really wanted to drive the point home]

At a previous company I worked at, I was a supervisor in charge of decent size sales staff. I don’t mind tooting my own horn–I was a valuable asset for the company. Yes, everyone is replaceable, but in the nearly 3 years I was there, my name was attached to over 1.5 million dollars in sales. For this line of work, that’s an impressive figure.

The General Manager was cool, okay, well, some of the time. For the majority of other time, he was actually not-so-nice. He was the kind of guy that was light with compliments and heavy with criticism. He had a foul mouth, a condescending tone and truly was a walking HR nightmare.

One day he asked me to put together some figures for a friend of his that was considering buying something from us. I did the research, assembled the info and calculated all the numbers.  In a moment of innocent human error, I added a $500 rebate that didn’t apply to this situation.  When I brought him the quote that he could send to his friend he immediately noticed the error and wigged out.  I mean from 0 to 60 race car fast.

“There’s no $500 rebate available for this situation. Are you %#@ing kidding me, Wayne?,” he asked. “You make me want to put a bullet in your head!”

There were numerous other vile insults, curse words and top of lungs expressions that shook the whole building. Remember, this quote wasn’t even sent out yet. This was a no-big-deal, easy fix that he went nuts over.

I stared at him without saying anything.  Part of me was in shock that my employer just told me that he wanted to put a bullet in my head. The other part of me knew that if I reacted the way my flesh felt like reacting, I would probably be in jail just minutes later.

When I returned to my desk, people kept coming up to me to ask if I was alright. Even members of upper management came to make sure I was okay.  The thunder from my blunder had obviously shook the house.

Later in the day when things were calm, I returned to his office, popped my head in the door and asked, “So you want to put a bullet in my head, huh?”

Having a calmer nature about him and some time to reflect on his inappropriate words, he danced, “ugh, well, no, ugh what I meant was, you make me want to put a bullet in my own head.”

Yea, okay buddy.  Nice try.

I think that you’ll agree, no employer should speak to an employee that way. Especially when your employee is a member of management and a top producer for your company. And this isn’t the first time he wigged out on me with such a degrading tone. He did this kind of thing all the time.

In the case of the bullet in the head incident, I think it’s fair to say, I had a valid labor board complaint. I’m gonna go as far as saying that I probably had a winnable law suit. Heck, there may have even been criminal charges brought down had I reported it.

So, what did I do?

I did my job with excellence and continued to work at a high level until such time that I was able to find another job.

That’s what I always do, in business or personal.  Sure there are times when the courts serve a purpose. There are situations that are so extreme that acting on legalities is the only way to go. However, most of the time, you can just choose to walk away. Avenging your offended pride is usually more headaches then satisfaction and the end to the story isn’t always happy.  It usually just adds more stress to your life and it could make it harder to find future work as word spreads through your industry that you’re “that guy or girl”.

On the other side of the coin, don’t quit your job because you have an issue with respecting authority. If a supervisor gives you assignments, tasks and responsibilities that match the job description you agreed to fulfill, drop the entitlement persona and take on an attitude of good work ethic, appreciation, integrity and diligence. Be the best at whatever it is they ask you to do even if you hate their guts. Smile, show up on time, play by the rules, work hard, volunteer for overtime (whether you get time and a half of not) and help all the co-workers around you.

Be known as a company man, a team player and act like you own the place. That kind of employee eventually does own the place.