Harassment Prevention Reminders and Lessons from Lizzo

Fox Rothschild LLP

Fox Rothschild LLP

My sexual harassment prevention training sessions always include a discussion of the common misconceptions about it. The news about pop star Lizzo brought some of these issues top-of-mind. A few issues to keep in mind; yes, they may seem obvious, but claims still happen (and much more often than one would think).

False Beliefs (or Common Misconceptions) about Harassment:

  • It must happen at work.
  • The harasser much be in your chain of command or your department.
  • You can’t be harassed:
    • By someone who supports you at work or has promoted or advocated for you
    • By someone you like
    • By a celebrity
    • By someone who is an LBGTQIA+ ally
    • By someone who is gay if you are straight, or someone straight if you are gay
    • If you flirt or drink too much
    • If you go to someone’s hotel room or let them give you a ride home
    • If your work environment is creative or expressive

Some Nevers for the Workplace (Learned from Some High Profile Cases):

  • Go to a strip club with any subordinates
  • Suggest strip poker as a group activity (even in jest)
  • Encourage anyone to participate in any sexual charged activities
  • Joke about former President Clinton’s cigar
  • Smell a colleague’s hair
  • Assume that someone young enough to be your child (or grandchild) wants anything other than a completely platonic relationship with you
  • Assume that subordinates enjoy your flirting or touching

Remember, sexual harassment is about power, and using that power in a way that makes others uncomfortable. If you don’t want to trigger a claim, then don’t do anything you wouldn’t want done to your child or parent. It is as simple as that.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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