When it comes to workplace sexual harassment, no one should seek to be a harasshole. But there is something harassholes often do that betches should make a practice—that is, documenting all workplace sexual harassment and how your employer handles it.
Harassholes keep score on who gets passes for inappropriate behavior because the information may give them leverage when an employer tries to hold them accountable for sexual harassment while allowing other harassholes to run amuck.
Case in point: the audacious lawsuit hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick filed in New York on Friday against his former employer, NBC.
Here’s the gist: Way back in December 2019, before COVID terrorized us all, Roenick went on a “cheeky” Barstool Sports podcast as a guest. While on the podcast, the 50-year-old offered off-color commentary on his NBC co-host’s “ass and boobs” before explaining how he led strangers to believe he was having a threesome with his wife and co-host. Real professional, right?
After suspending Roenick for a few months, NBC fired him in February 2020. Now the hockey star is suing the network, claiming NBC discriminated against him as a heterosexual man.
According to Roenick, NBC didn’t punish a gay figure-skating analyst who made sexualized—albeit scripted—comments about his co-host while the two were acting together in a parody promotional video. Roenick says, when he brought the matter to an NBC exec, he was told that the analyst “is gay and can say whatever.”
Yes, there’s a lot to unpack there, but don’t get distracted. Roenick’s basically saying NBC should have given him a pass on his filthy remarks about his co-host because the network gave another man a pass.
When you’re done rolling your eyes at Roenick’s audacity, let’s discuss the ever-so important takeaway from his case: when it comes to workplace sexual harassment, betches need to document, document, document.
Documenting sexual harassment you and your colleagues experience, and your employer’s response to the harassment, is among the most effective ways you can maintain the upper hand should things go south and you need to fight your employer for failing to enforce the rules.
Let me explain.
Employers say they’re anti-discrimination, claiming they consistently enforce the rules by punishing harassholes, their popularity or your unpopularity notwithstanding. In reality, employers also give passes to people they like, creating a host of problems for everyone. The unfairness of it all gives rise to discrimination lawsuits—that is, if there’s documentation showing the employer is not enforcing its rules.
By “documentation” I mean “What is written down, printed, recorded, photocopied, saved? What do you have to support your account about your experiences?”
Sure, you may remember details well and never lose your car keys. But when it comes to workplace sexual harassment, it’s still best to have documentation because memories fade and documents are harder to manipulate. Also, while your word may be good enough for your mom, the patriarchy makes a woman’s word a hard sell more than half the time.
That’s why you document your version of the events with notes about encounters, dated-diary entries about conversations, text message chains and photos saved to the clou,; PDF copies of emails, papers, and websites, and so on. You hold onto anything that provides enough detail to refresh your recollection of the events should things go off the rails down the line and you need to back up your word should it be put to the test.
Harassholes and shady employers unapologetically lie and suddenly lose documents. You must be prepared.
…much like Roenick, whose ten-year tenure at NBC is over, to his complete and utter surprise. That’s right—the former hockey gawd never saw it coming, as he insists his firing is one of the “biggest raw deals of all time.” (Who knew you could lose your job for gratuitously sexualizing your co-worker’s anatomy on a popular podcast and bragging about misleading others into thinking you’re intimately throupled with her and your spouse?)
Despite the supposed blindsiding, Roenick had the wherewithal to document how his employer treated him and others who acted up, giving him fodder for a lawsuit that may or may not end with Roenick taking home a settlement check.
You, too, should be boldly protecting your professional interests should your employer act up or let harassholes run amok, as documentation can make or break your future.
Adrienne Lawrence is an on-air legal analyst and the author of Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment (TarcherPerigee, 2020). Lawrence has contributed her insight on workplace sexual harassment for outlets such as the Harvard Business Review and NPR. Follow her on Twitter @AdrienneLaw and IG @AdrienneLawrence.
Images: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The past few months have been big for change. Companies have been called out for systemic racism. The Supreme Court gave LGBTQ workers federal civil rights. Sexual predators are having a renewed #MeToo moment. Powers-that-be are being held to account. That’s phenomenal for social progress. It’s also horrible for workplace sexual harassment.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (amidst an already heinous 2020), but you’ll want to beware of increased sexual harassment when you’re on the job, as harassholes hate this new world.
Here’s the skinny: Workplace sexual harassment is a power play. Basically, harassers are insecure people who want to make you feel small because they find you threatening and/or seek a power boost.
Don’t get it twisted, though: Sexual harassment doesn’t have to be sexual. What matters is that you’re being targeted because of your gender or sexual identity.
Harassholes may try to “put you in your place” by using typical sexualized come-ons, like ogling your goodies in the office, jumping in your DMs to ask you out for the umpteenth time, or promising you a promotion in exchange for a Netflix and chill. Or, harassholes may leverage hostile put-downs that humiliate you, like calling you crude names on conference calls, cutting you out of morning meetings, berating you for not dressing the way a woman “should” dress. The displays of disrespect are limitless.
Now that our new world is pushing for greater respect for marginalized persons, women included, harassholes see our world as a less hospitable place for their antics. They’re frustrated about not being able to mistreat you and others with impunity, and they’ll try to reclaim their sense of power by stepping up their harassment game. Protect your purse and your mental health by being prepared.
Here are three quick tips to help you beat workplace sexual harassment:
Identify The Harassholes
You may be a butterfly, but harassholes aren’t very unique. They tend to have shared traits, among them being gender. Men make up some 90% of harassholes. In addition to that, they’re more likely to embrace these characteristics:
⭐︎ Support traditional gender roles
⭐︎ Maintain a strong male identity
⭐︎ Think men are superior to women
⭐︎ Believe men and women should be segregated
⭐︎ Sexualize women, girls, and LGBTQ people
⭐︎ Trivialize victimization or engage in victim-blaming
⭐︎ Lack egalitarian attitudes toward gender and/or race
You can spot these traits by listening to what a harasshole says about gender and sexual identity. For instance, harassholes often think men are better suited for traditionally male jobs and leadership positions whereas women should be in “pink careers,” stay-at-home moms, or in supporting roles. Harassholes use activities and terms typically associated with women to demean other men, such as calling a man a “pussy” or promising to wear a dress in public as part of a bet. These are the dudes who use stereotypes about women as punch lines.
The thing is, there’s nothing funny about harassholes. Keep an eye out for them and remember—just because someone isn’t a harasshole to you, doesn’t mean they’re not harassing another colleague. Harassholes are shady shapeshifters.
Document, Document, Document
Your records of what happened are essential to beating workplace sexual harassment. Why? Memories fade. Plus, there’s a 99% chance that the harasshole (and your employer) will lie. Avoid the he said, she said situation by documenting what went down. On your personal computer or encrypted email, maintain a log of the who, what, when, where, and how of the experience like you’re writing a bland yet detailed screenplay. Also, attach supporting documents such as text messages, emails, DMs, and notes.
You’ll want to have it all, especially if you ever need to speak out or if you suffer retaliation. Documentation can make the difference between getting the heave-ho with nothing and getting out of a company on your own terms with solid references and a strong severance.
Always Trust Your Instincts
Pay attention to that still small voice that echoes within when you’re uncomfortable. Never try to override your instincts with rationalization. You know what you’re sensing, what you experienced, and what you need not tolerate. Don’t ignore it.
Do ignore gaslighting and shade-throwing coworkers. As much as I hate to say it, research shows that some coworkers will try to discourage you from speaking out about sexual harassment and many will distance themselves from you for fear of being mistreated by your employer too. That’s a bummer. But it doesn’t mean you should “take one for the team” by keeping quiet. Real friends won’t insist you be disrespected and won’t try to deny your reality.
Stick close to your instincts, demand to be treated with respect, and do you. You may not be The Boss, but you are a boss and you deserve to work in a harassment-free workplace.
Adrienne Lawrence is an on-air legal analyst and the author of Staying in the Game: The Playbook for Beating Workplace Sexual Harassment (TarcherPerigee, 2020). Lawrence has contributed her insight on workplace sexual harassment for outlets such as the Harvard Business Review and NPR. Follow her on Twitter @AdrienneLaw and IG @AdrienneLawrence
Images: Song_about_summer/ Shutterstock.com
We’re not even a full week into February yet, and honestly, 2018 isn’t doing a stellar job at convincing anyone it plans to save us from the 365 days of hellfire that was 2017. A few good things actually did come out of 2017 though, like the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. However, these movements wouldn’t be around in the first place if certain people didn’t act like total effing scumbags. There are seriously too many people to list, and I don’t have the time for that otherwise we’d be here all day, so here’s a shortlist to remind you who’s officially over and cancelled as we head into this new year reclaiming our time.
1. Harvey Weinstein
Do I really need to explain this one? The description for Time’s Up literally says it was formed in response to the “Weinstein Effect.” When you have your own “effect” named after you, it’s pretty safe to say you’re a monster of epic proportions and deserve to be cancelled indefinitely.
2. James Franco
Oh, James. Sometimes when a dude sorta looks like a creep, and talks like a creep, and smiles like a creep…he turns out to be a creep. Any professor who offers an instructional class on how to act in sex scenes should probably raise some red flags. Plus, we hear he’s allegedly a head pusher, and that is cool under absolutely no circumstance. The gag reflex is a delicate thing, and I will choose where I move my head when I damn well please. Next.
3. Matt Damon
Matt Damon is a classic case of “if you just kept your mouth shut, you wouldn’t be in this mess.” Honestly, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that, I’d have enough money to buy more vodka and bring that problem full circle again. Damon tried to differentiate the “spectrum” of sexual assault, because apparently it’s important to keep it straight that whipping your dick out and rubbing one out to an unwilling audience is not the same thing as grabbing a handful of ass without consent. Both are disgusting, but it’s a different disgusting. Thank you for clearing that up, Matthew. He also said he was hoping more attention could be given to men who have not been accused of sexual misconduct in order to…IDK clear the reputation of men everywhere? The last thing we need is more attention on powerful men. Like, at all. How d’ya like them apples?
4. Louis C.K.
Speaking of unsolicited jerking off, we now turn to Louis C.K., a comedian whose jokes about non-consensual assault and masturbation actually turned out to be true. Wow, a man who tells the truth – in any other scenario he’d be given a pat on the back and a gold medal. But this is not one of those impressive displays of honesty, and even though he issued a half-assed apology, he and his overexposed fire crotch are still DOA. *Friends theme song clap*
5. Kevin Spacey
Did you forget about Mr. Spacey? That might be because he was literally erased from existence following the many accusations against him for forcing himself on young men – most notably one who was underage at the time. Then he tried to make it all ok by being like “but wait, I’ve been gay this whole time! Pls respect my bravery for coming out in this trying time.” Absolutely not. Being gay is not an excuse for anything other than choosing exclusively Whitney Houston songs at karaoke. Not only is Spacey himself cancelled, but he also fucked up the final season of House of Cards, and that is a crime against Netflix and humanity. President Robin Wright, please save us from this mess.
6. Quentin Tarantino
File this one under “shoulda seen it coming.” While allegations against Tarantino have not been of the sexual misconduct nature, they certainly fall in line with a powerful man abusing his position and personally inflicting or putting women in harm’s way. Uma Thurman spoke to the NY Times about the abuse she endured on the set of Kill Bill, including Tarantino spitting in her face and choking her with a chain to coax a more convincing acting performance, and purposefully endangering her by insisting she perform a stunt in a dangerous car that led to her crashing and permanently damaging her neck and knees. If karma serves him right, I have a feeling a bunch of women are about to metaphorically go all Kill Bill on his ass.
7. Ed Westwick
One word. Eight letters. Say it and you’re officially done. Predator. It really cuts deep when the subject of most of your teenage sexual fantasies turns out to be yet another link in the chain. Remember when Chuck Bass forced himself on Jenny Humphrey? Well you know what they say about art imitating life. You know you love me, XOXO Gossip Betch.
8. Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Alright so, Arie hasn’t actually done anything terrible (yet) so don’t freak out and condemn him. I’m just saying we should cancel him because like…have you been paying attention to this season of The Bachelor? He’s honestly pretty creepy and gross when he “flirts” while trying to kiss each and every girl’s entire face in one gulp, so I’m not counting him out on the “Time might be Up” list just yet. Don’t @ me. Just accept that he’s not Peter a slimy dude who broke up with his long term girlfriend to be the elderly Bachelor and join in my judgment if you know what’s good for you.
9. A Shit-ton Of Directors And Producers
One Tree Hill? Run by a sexual harasser. Creator of Mad Men? Misconduct allegations. Roman Polanski, James Toback, Brett Ratner, even the head of Disney Animation? You guessed it. IDK what it is about men who already get to boss people around as a job needing a little extra fix, but I can safely say I’m never setting foot near a film set because those things are clearly booby traps full of douchebags waiting to assault you at every turn. No thanks. You can go shave your back now.
10. Donald Trump
While he hasn’t been officially cancelled yet, what is the hold up, people?! The fact that the President of the United States has been accused of sexual assault by 19 different women, and reportedly paid off a porn star after he had an affair with her right after his wife gave birth. This should matter. Why does nothing matter?! Never did I think I would root so hard for evidence that our government colluded with Russia, but I’m afraid that might be our only hope. When the day comes that the country starts paying attention to removing predators from positions of political power, I’ll have a Pussy Hat and a Time’s Up pin waiting with your name on it.