Monday, May 01, 2006

Spanking? Somebody Deserves One

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission." Eleanor Roosevelt

A Fresno, CA jury just awarded $1.7 million to Janet Orlando, 53, in response to her sexual harassment and sexual battery case against an Anaheim security company, Alarm One, Inc.

Seems Ms. Orlando participated in team building exercises which included the winners pelting the losing team with pies, feeding them baby food and spanking them.

What in the world is wrong with corporate America today? There isn't enough stress and competition in the workplace, they have to find ways to add gratuitous indignities under the guise of Team Building?

I have a news flash for the boys in the boardroom: fraternity-type hazing has no place in the workplace. Encouraging such boorish behavior does not increase employee morale or productivity. On the contrary, it's a great way to turn your employees off.

And please tell me, what's wrong with women in corporate America? We strive to break through the corporate glass ceiling, but once there, we want to be treated as if we're wearing glass slippers?

Ladies, get a clue: we can't have our cake and eat it too. If we don't like the problem, we're genetically better equipped than men to find a creative solution.

Whining isn't it. Neither are bogus sexual harassment lawsuits.

Did Alarm One come up with a lame and incredibly stupid way to foster loyalty and teamwork? Definitely. Was it sexual harassment? No. Battery, maybe -- but applied equally to both sexes. Ms. Orlando wasn't singled out. Everyone on her team--men and women alike--received the same degrading treatment.

The Associated Press reports that Ms. Orlando saw herself as "a mother figure to others in her team." If so, why didn't she act like an adult, step up and refuse to participate in such childish behavior in the first place?

No matter how ill-conceived, the exercise was voluntary. Yes, you could make a case that anyone refusing to join in risked ridicule at best, career suicide at worst. But that's a cop out. And arguably a far more legitimate reason to sue.

I've attended my share of "management offsites" offering clever and intelligent team building exercises. Company and industry trivia contests. Focus groups with managers from other departments. Learning to juggle. (Don't scoff. The management metaphor couldn't be more appropriate.) All legitimate ways to build trust, relationships and teamwork.

I've also attended team building offsites replete with athletic contests. Corporate America is still a man's world after all -- and a young man's world at that. But anyone with a bum knee, bad back or of an age where a relay race could pose a real threat to life and limb was offered a position as a judge or referee. Or simply encouraged to cheer from the sidelines. Which is as it should be.

Those who conceived and executed Alarm One's idiotic team exercises should be spanked themselves for sanctioning such immature and offensive roughhousing.

But for Ms. Orlando to claim special privilege as a victim is absurd. She wasn't sexually harassed. All Alarm One employees--regardless of gender--were equally demeaned and insulted. And much as I deplore litigation as reflexive response, she should have urged all of them to sue their company for collective harassment and battery.

Janet Orlando and the jury who bought into her claim didn't strike a blow for women's rights. Instead they helped ratify the idea of women's ineffectiveness in the workplace. And supported the myth that women can't command and demand respect on their own.

As for Alarm One, I have one message for them: Bend over, boys.



Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Ross said...

I'd be interested to see if this woman, if indeed acting as "a mother figure to others in her team", splits her 1.7M with the rest of the spankees.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of what she sued for initially, the settlement was NOT purely for discrimination, but for emotional distress, pain and suffering, economic loss, future medical costs. And over two thirds of the money was awarded as punitive damages. And she would get only half of that herself.

"Plaintiff's verdict for $1.7 million including $10,000 for economic loss, $40,000 for future medical costs and $450,000 for emotional distress, pain and suffering. They awarded her an additional $1.2 million in punitive damages."

To me, the really interesting part of the story is
"Orlando's attorney, Nicholas Wagner, said there was a lesson for everyone in Orlando's ordeal: Complain in writing. He said Orlando had complained four times, but Alarm One argued she never had because she had never done so in writing.

"If you don't complain in writing, complaints don't count," Wagner said."

And now, just for an update:
"Janet Orlando's supervisors spanked her in front of jeering co-workers. So she sued them — and won.

But seven months after a $1.7million verdict in her favor, the Clovis woman who gained national fame from her legal crusade still hasn't seen a dime.

Her attorney says Orlando's former employer, Anaheim-based Alarm One Inc., and its liability insurers won't honor a settlement deal that followed the verdict."

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own a small business (less than 25 emloyees.) But this is EXACLTLY why I will avoid hiring women if I can avoid it. They are many times more likely to try to find a way to get cash in a settlement if possible, instead of having to work. Most women would rather stay home and watch Oprah in the first place.

12:17 PM  

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