Sexual Harmony
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Sexual Harmony
I confess .... I do that, occasionally. SoCoOL Bob is not impervious to "criticism," and/or I am not unaware that I have my faults ... some in my own eyes and some in the eyes of others.

But, this confession may not be as dramatic as you think. The "SoCoOL Comments on Sexual Harassment" Pages have been getting a tremendous number of "hits." AND ... I confess, I don't know why?

Care to tell me? How do you happen to be visiting the SoCoOL Comments on Sexual Harassment? From whence you came? and why? Anything else you think might be of interest? May I publish your response?

Reply EMail

Date sent:      	Wed, 29 Jul 1998 15:45:56 EDT
To:             	SoCooLBob@Yahoo.Com
Subject:        	From Whence I Came.

I hit on your site while looking for info. on sexual harrassment.  I am
doing a college-level class presentation on sexual harrassment on your
site has given me a wealth of info.  THANKS!  Please do publish my
response and any readers who have other comments on sexual harrassment may
email me with their would help a TON!

Questions we are addressing in our presentation include:

What defines sexual harrassment?
Is this a fair definition?  Why/why not?
What do I do if I feel I have been sexually harrassed?
What do I do if I feel I have been falsely accused of sexual harrassment?
How do I protect myself from being falsely accused of sexual harrassment?
How can I as a business owner/manager prevent sexual harrassment in the
workplace, as well as prevent false accusations of sexual harrassment?

Thanks for all the info and any more to come!

Alright .. 

     Thanks for yo'er response to SoCô¿ôL and SoCô¿ôL Comments on 
Sexual Harassment.   

      I will, in fact, assist if I can, and while we're at it, let's see how good
this presentation can get ???  If yo'er interested ??

      I'm posting your EMail on the FIRST PAGE of the SoCô¿ôL Comments 
on Sexual Harassment page.  This is significant because it will preceed the 
original saga, written in 1995, and the many other documents containing 
SoCô¿ôL visitors comments.

       In order to be fully effective, if you would choose to participate, you do 
need to identify yourself, and tell us more about your project.

       And then let us together see if we can do some additional things to 
improve on the overall presentation ... interaction .. discussion etc.  

       On The Subject of SEXUAL HARASSMENT  

Just Say Yô¿ô Web Board

Original document began publication in 1995?

This may be one of the most difficult documents I've done for SoCoOL ... Sonoma County ONLINE. It is the one that's been in the planning the longest. I consider it difficult mostly because of the feeling there are so many wonderful and positive things that could be achieved between people ... if a solution ... say .... SEXUAL HARMONY ... were the phrase most impressed upon our hearts and minds. I guess it's just a function of my own personal conviction that the correct model for successful human behavior is a clear image of the goal, the objective, the correct behavior, and I question whether our society has that or spends nearly enough time working to perfect it.

An emphasis on the negative merely serves to make that negative more clear in each of our minds. Could that be the reason that the sex's feel so growingly uncomfortable with each other, that the divorce rate is so high, that teenage pregnancy, single parenthood, abortion, spousal abuse, and aids dominate our thought. What must be the inevitable result of that? As A Man/Woman Thinketh?
In order to attempt to achieve some worthwhile goals in the writing of this document ... allow me to include a description of the process of writing it.

I had not intended to begin with some sort of grandiose PONTIFICATION STATEMENT. The kind of thing my son and I often jokingly chant "Slogan !" to while we're watching CSPAN, or CNN or any one of a number of "communications vehicles." A part of the teaching I follow suggests that communication is best achieved by a description of EXPERIENCE. Tell me who you are, what you did, then tell me your conclusions. I know that some subjects seem as though they cannot be approached this way. What if you have an opinion about something with which you apparently have no experience? Or ... who are you to extrapolate such grandiose conclusions from your one or two experiences?

The largest part of this document will be a description of what happened ... along with an occasional comment. Then, we'll ASK for your reaction ... on this topic ... or one of your own. Hopefully this article can be written in such a way that it serves to stimulate even more good communication ... on SoCoOL ... between and among us all.

A major portion of my professional career has been spent in the employ of someone else. While I have rather consistently engaged in entrepeneurial and independent activities, about 80% of the time I have done it, in addition to being in the employ of someone else. For about 12 of the last 15 years that employment included being employed in the car business, either as a sales person, sales manager, finance manager or general manager .. including, of course, having produced two television show selling automobiles. A considerable portion of that career has been spent advocating the notion that "they" ... "we" ... and certainly "I" ... could receive greater benefit from our employment, if we could learn and practice a more positive kind of communication and behavior toward one another. My zeal for this position comes from having experienced some extremely successful results, created in my own life and career, from pursuing such goals ... and also includes some failures that occurred largely because one party or another seemed unable to perform in this way.

My last job in the car business was as the Finance Manager for a small high line/low line franchise, which shall go Nameless, along with all other Proper Nouns that could creep in to this document. Because of the relatively small size of this particular dealer, it was necessary to overlap the roles of Finance Manager, Sales Manager, Person-in-Charge at any one moment ... so the "role" I played within the organization varied from day to day, and even sometimes, hour to hour.

I can't say as I was particularly excited by the overall competence of the people in this organization. Their sales performance demonstrated a pattern consistenly below that of dealers with whom they shared auto row. It wasn't the cars fault. They did not have a competent sales staff, certainly in terms of performance, and the management staff was not likely to grow one anytime soon. They followed a pattern, not uncommon in the car business, of having a preference for hiring new "bodies." Having experience was considered a negative. They even improved upon the oft seen " No Experience Necessary" want ad to run their own version ...

" No Experience Wanted."

There must be something desperately wrong with a person or a group who assumes that the longer you've been doing something .... the worse you get.

On the occasion of my having been in there employ for approximately 4 months, they had pretty much deteriorated their sales floor to the point there was nobody there. So they started hiring. They interviewed and selected at least 4 new ... what are referred to as "green peas" in the industry. These "green peas" had nary a clue what the car business was all about ... how the transaction could best be conducted ... some ... I am sure ... had very little positive experience with selling ... whatsoever. That's fine ... you understand ... if you have the personnel and methodology in place to create an opportunity for them to "train" themselves. But ... if you don't .... it is a "chronic" waste of time ... assuming you have in mind to achieve "higher" goals. This company had neither the personnel, the methodology, nor, I perhaps erroneously conclude, the goals ... which they proceeded to prove over the next 4 months as first one, then another, "green pea," failed to meet their expectations.

So ... they, of course, hired more. Here I was ... a certified Dale Carnegie Sales Course Instructor .... certifiable "television INFOmercial producer," ... and they didn't deem it in there best interests to utilize these talents to increase their sales. Unfortunately, in the course of hiring their newest "green peas," they chose a particular young women ... whose behavior shall be the subject of this description.

This lady was extremely shy, or self-contained, or something. She spoke with a relatively high pitched voice .... demonstrated very little energy ... appeared to be relatively unassertive with customers ... spent a good deal of time discussing and/or putting out various fires occuring in her professional and or personal life. Her behavior and results were such that it caused most others to eventually exclaim .... " She SUCKS !!! She Stinks !!! She's Worthless !!!" and/or words to that effect. She couldn't sell her way out of a SoCoOL Cow Pie !!!

It was at that point that "naive Bob," former knight in white shining armour, became stimulated to assert some form of Naive Bobism or another which included, " Anybody CAN sell cars .... even her." Besides .... dastardly deed upon dastardly deed ... I actually started to LIKE HER.

Now ... I'm In Trouble

I discovered a number of things that I thought were reasonably positive about who and what she was. That's kind of the way I think. Consider the POSITIVES ... THINK POSITIVE .... BUILD ON STRENGTHS... that kind of stuff. I started to like that shrill voice ... listened as she chronicled her various maladies, while I conjured POSITIVE solutions. I even invited her to dinner .... describing all the way the difficult problem that could be presented because, as many of you suspect, I AM MALE .... and she "be" FEMALE, and rumor has it that an environment has been created where if a man were to approach a woman ... included in the transaction ... is a threat contained in their difference. Of course, Naive Bob assumed that problems were vehicles for creating solutions, and that goal oriented folks could always create the correct solution for anything that might correctly be defined as a problem. Naive Bob is not always SoCoOL.

I invited her to golf ... discovering as I did that this "lady," this "female," this "woman," etc. etc, could really hit the ball. Though she described herself as not having played for quite some time ... she crushed a few drives well past 200 yards ... and she was still "blond," and still "female," AND ... she was at least willing ... to TRY and become a salesperson. Naive Bob calls this "potential." Having just lost my best friend, and consistent golfing buddy, to a career move to Texas, Naive Bob might even have been known to have fantasized on how "neat" it might be to replace a bossom male buddy, with a bossom female. ( I have kept myself safely away from "intimate relationship" with any member of the opposite sex, for a reasonable number of years, with my own notion of what I really would want in the way of a "soul mate," and/or bosom friend. I want to share fun, and business, I want to watch sports and CNN, while I hack the computer. I am willling to pursue to the death the true desires of my heart, even if the trees from the seeds I plant may not grow for a year or more, MAY not even grow at all. I want to raise my son to be "free thinking" and am therefore willing to endure the space we create to make mistakes. I don't really need to go dancing or go out to dinner much. I don't have a lot of money.

Well .... I don't think she had similar designs on me. At least that's what she consistently, said, without a great deal of difficulty, as I brought up and discussed the subject. Strangely to some, perhaps, I could accept that. While I might not have thought she was making the best decision, for herself, I certainly could respect her right to make it. Unfortunately, the rest of her life remained a sufficient disaster to cause her to reach for a particular straw ... as a solution ... that was and has been, to say the least, a little inconvenient.

First, this lady complained of the behavior of our best sales person ... also a good friend. A 69 year old "Italian" gentleman, who was, and shall always be, an excellent salesperson, because of his ability to get inside the heart and mind of his prospects ... even far enough to make a friend. Her complaint ... that he spoke derogatorily of females, specifically herself ... that he solicited illicit relations .... that he threatened her ... and that he made it generally uncomfortable and impossible for her to succeed because of a variety of named and unnamed devices. Indeed, that he participated in a conspiracy, along with the Sales Manager, to prevent her from making sales. She also complained of another "green pea." He, she alledged, looked up her dress while pretending to throw papers in the garbage can. She did not complain of my behavior ... indeed, it was I, among others, to whom she brought the complaint. She did not complain despite the fact that I had even been known to send .... what some who fail to appreciate the true depth of the word would call .... LOVE letters. ( or more appropriately in my case ... LOVE FAXES ). Makes sense, I guess, I had done nothing but try to help her.

Immediately upon hearing of her complaint ... the General Manager called a meeting. The subject of SEXUAL HARASSMENT became the topic of the day. Unfortunately ... the complaints did not stop. My Italian friend, it seems, simply could not stop talking, can you? Apparently his choice of words continually made life "uncomfortable" for this particular "green pea," and, INDEED, upon receiving the complaint from another female employee that this same Italian had chosen the word "honey," he was summarily DISMISSED. It says so in his record. Dismissed for sexually harassing some of the female employees. I think there may have been other females who were at the same time welcoming his unique harassments, others who ignored them, others who were entertained by them, others who may not even have known them.

I arrived for work one Monday, about two weeks later, only to be handed my final check and told to go home. I suspected this may have been partially as a result of my disagreement with the proceedures just followed, partially as a result of my newer outspokenness that these people spent far too much time doing things that would not yield results, partially who knows. The reasons given were pure "Cow Pie."

Look Who's Gone

So life goes on ... end of story .... right Bob. Wrong, Web Browser breath. Some 10 months later there arrives some sort of notice from the State of California, Department of Human Resources and Development, or some such agency. A complaint has been filed against you with this agency alledging physical and verbal SEXUAL HARASSMENT. NO ACTION ... need be taken on your part ... just wanted you to know. Would the continued insertion of the word ... disbelief ... improve your comprehension of "my side of the story?"

Not one to be left totally "defenseless," I called the aforementioned agency ... only to be told that the case had already been closed ... sent on to the Federal Governement, that I would therefore have nothing to be concerned about, the 'Fed's' only have jurisdiction over employers, that ... NO ... I could not get a record of the complaint or any of the other proceedings ... without a SUBPOENA. mmmmmm?

Upon calling the Federal Government, I discovered they too almost instantly closed the case, without investigation, issuing what is called a "right to sue" letter. mmmmm? How we doing so far? Next, I received a phone call from my former employer indicating .... THEY needed ME ... come down to the dealership on such and such a day. They had indeed been served with a rather lengthy document which included several causes of action, naming them, my friend, the other salesperson, all the other managers, and guess who .... Naive Bob.

The document itself was truly incredible ... and I shall describe it shortly. An interesting aside was that shortly after the filing of this document, there appeared an article in our local newspaper, on the front cover of the business section. I've only ever seen two articles by the person who's byline announced that a SEXUAL HARASSMENT SUIT had been filed against a local car dealer ... and outlining some of the actions alledged by the plaintiff. The article was not bashful to mentioned names ... and clearly LIED about making any meaningful attempt to contact this defendant. AT&T answers my phone, when I'm on the phone and when I'm gone, and this particular writer did not attempt, in any meaninful way, to contact me. The second article written under this writers byline appeared a few weeks later. It was three articles actually, filling 2/3 of the front page of that days business section, and 2/3 of the back page, on the same subject. It "reported" of a local couple who had come together to produce a SEXUAL HARASSMENT CD ... for general distribution, to employers, etc., to help employers against the potential negatives of being involved when such a thing as SEXUAL HARASSMENT is around. I thought it curious that this reporters only appearance and/or demonstrated expertise, was in writing an article broadcasting the accusation of SEXUAL HARASSMENT, and a full blown promotion, complete with pictures of the product, etc. etc. that would make any public relations firm proud. Don't you this curious???

The document filed in Superior Court was 17 pages long, and alledged 8 seperate causes of action: Sexual Harassment ... Sexual Harassment Complainant Retaliation ... Gender Discrimination General Negligence ... Negligence based on respondeat superior ... intentional infliction of severe emotional distress ... constructive discharge ... and breach of contract. I'm going to shorten this documentary significantly by simply saying that a great many of these cause of action are, and were supported by dialogue and description that is and was pure " cow pie." Enough, at this point, to say, that this particular combination of attorneys, had certainly chosen painting their current course of action with an extremely broad brush. Shooting with a shotgun ??? Having served a brief stint in Law School, and still being "Naive Bob," it's disappointing to think that the firmly entrenched and established "Justice System" supports this sort of activity ... on a consistent basis ... but I believe a further revelation of events will serve to highlight why. Shortly before accepting service of this document myself ... I waited for the employer to "decide" whether or not "they" would represent myself and my friend co-defendant. "Decide" even though a few "cold calls" to attorneys and some surfing on the INTERNET indicated to me that the "odds were the employer has a duty to defend." Subsequent to their decision, they appointed an attorney for my friend and myself. Shortly thereafter, I would receive by far the most enlightening document, and then a progression of similar documents, as this attorneys way of keeping us, the defendants, abreast of what she was doing in our behalf.

Coming To Our Defense

The first document I would receive from the attorney was a 11 page memorandum outlining the strategy on behalf of the employer and these defendants. Included in that memorandum was a notation that an investigator had already interviewed one of the witnesses for the defendant who said she would testify, as the roommate of the plaintiff, that the plaintiff "planned the set up of the dealership for sexual harassment from the time she went to work there."

As You Know ...

In a description of alternative methods for handling the case:

"As you undoubtedly know, sexual harassment cases are expensive to defend and potentially explosive. All of us who follow cases in this area of the law are familiar with the spectacular multi-million dollar verdict which was returned in the Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie case in September of 1994. Weeks, like the plaintiff in this case, was employed for only a few months. Regardless of the merits ( excuse me if I must highlight those words ), the majority of these cases are settled because the defendants ultimately decide that they do not want the publicity of a trial, even though the allegations may be wholly unmeritorious. (Excuse me again, some of these words just Jumped Out At Me ...) Further, defending a sexual harassment case is both time consuming and disruptive to the defendants lives. Accordingly, it is important to make an early philosophical decision as to how to proceed with the defense."
The choices outlined by this document include attempting to negotiate a quick and confidential settlement or prepare the case for trial. In making the decision to prepare the case for trial, the INSURANCE COMPANY and the defendants must recognize the cost of defending the case and the potential disruption of the lives of everyone involved.


If the plaintiff receives a verdict on a cause of action for sexual harassment, even for a small amount, the defendants will be liable for plaintiff's attorneys fees. Courts in the Bay Area have regularly approved fees in the range of $250.00 to $300.00 per hour.

Since the defending parties need to have some idea of the legal costs of preparing a defense, the document then goes on for 5 pages describing various activities including video-taped interviews by private investigator, written interogatories and various other discovery activities to obtain background on the plaintiff, response to plaintiff's interogatories, and a series of depositions to take variously 7 days ( Can you say 8 hours x $300.00 = $2400 x 7 = $16,800 + the cost of videographer etc. etc.), 2 days, 5 days, 5 days, 1 day, 2 days, etc. etc. The bottom line is that defendants costs could easily range from ...

$300,000 to $500,000 or more.

Is this making any sense to you? Is there something in what you've read so far that indicates the Great American Psyche has discovered a wrong in the world, and developed a comprehensive and positive plan for improving the situation? Is that what you see? Is that why the employer is immediately being held "legally" responsible for a particular behavior, on the part of people who happen to be in his/her employ, and that that legal responsibility manifests itself in a potential liability of $300,00 - $500,000 to defend against, and Millions to lose? Is this somehow structured to help improve the lives of these employees ... to help them see the way to better human relations? Did we pick this as, like, the best solution to a problem we've discovered in the way our society works? Did we vote on this? Have I missed something?

Have I Missed Something?

I confess, at this moment, that great dichotomy occurred that seems to occur when you become involved in some activity ... that you know "ain't right" ... but the "world's" got a steam roller built ... filled with other people ... at least some of whom also know "it ain't right" ... that's going to keep these events going in entirely the wrong direction. What direction shall I espouse .... this ... to me ... is clearly a ridiculous system for dealing with anything. It has no business ... certainly at this stage in this scenario ... being in court or being handled by attorneys. Some form of counseling, maybe, some form of action designed to have the parties discuss their individual actions and opinions ... O.K. ... but an adversarial situation where MONEY is clearly the end. The actions in question, even if true, would not be a cause of action among private parties. How's the employer supposed to judge or adjudicate the actions of some individuals. AND ... what other crime is it that is defined by the "victim." The same action welcomed becomes a step toward friendship ... even love ... whereas rejected it becomes a cause of action in Superior Court. An employer would not be responsible if one person liked or pursued another, not in their employ. The parties in question have barely said hello, and yet they are being told that even if an individual is LYING ... or is inconsistent ... or is any one of a number of other possibilities ... there is no "percentage" in pursuing the next prescribed action ... because it's going to COST YOU A FORTUNE ... FOR NOTHING ... no matter what you do. And, they are being told, that even if the thought of rewarding the plaintiff for behaving in a "despicable" fashion should enter their minds, this could not possibly be cost effective ... WIN or LOSE. This can't make sense to almost anybody, and yet, this is the system, not just in this case, but in HUNDREDS like it all over the U.S.

Toward Reconciliation

Future events would yield all kinds of wonderful money being spent by attorneys and investigators for the defendant. Thanks to their efficient activities, a meeting was set up with a mediator ... where the parties would get together with the idea of discovering whether it were possible to make a settlement. This meeting ended up to be the most disgusting, rude, inconsiderate, piece of nonsense that I personally can recall ever having participated in.

My partner and I arrived after spending approximately 2 and one-half hours, standing or sitting at the entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge. It seems just 10 minutes or so before our arrival to cross the bridge ... a 10 car head on collision had occurred. See ... things can always be worse.

We arrived at the mediation some 2 hours late ... but had been informed that several others had been delayed as well. The plaintiff's attorney had apparently just finished his opening comment as we walked into the room. Almost immediately, the parties seemingly in charge, began to divide up sides and offices ... and nearly everyone left. We were never so much as introduced nor told what was going on. Later we were advised that we wouldn't be needed any time soon and told we could go to lunch.

Upon our return ... my friend apparently made one comment too loud or too many, because our attorney came in and escorted us to "our own room," where we remained for 2 and half hours with out even hearing so much as a boo from anyone. Later, we would sit in the hallway in an effort to be noticed. The "arbitrator," and the attorneys could be seen running between rooms and they engaged in what was clearly a negotiation over dollars. How much would the insurance company offer? How much would the plaintiff's attorneys accept? I'll leave the numbers out. The attorneys especially demonstrated a tremendous amount of sensitivity about discussing the amount. Certainly wouldn't want news of this process to get out ... uncontrolled. The plaintiff apparently had begun by asking for a million dollars ... and relatively quickly slid to something in excess of $100.000. What were the allegations again? and in what way was this plaintiff damaged ... even if all the facts were as alledged? You say you have discovered evidence that she has, in the past, lied in court? Finally, pretty well disgusted with the entire process unfolding before us, I told my friend,

"If we have any leverage at all here, the only way we're going to find it out is to tell them we're leaving."
They said fine, sorry, and we left. Later ... I was given a message through my son that the owner of the auto store had phoned and left a message requesting my attendance in his office at 9:00 a.m.

"Come On In and Sit Down"

... he said, upon my arriving promptly at 9:00 am.
"What I have to say will only take a minute."
"WE DEFENDED YOU," he said.
"And the case is settled."
"There's just two things I want from you. One, that you are to reveal none of the details of this case to anyone, and you are not in any way to attempt to contact the plaintiff. Do I have your word on those two things."
"Sir," I said, " you don't have my word on anything."
"I'm disappointed," he said, " I thought you were an honrable man.
"I believe I am, sir, and that's the very reason I say that you do not have my word on anything."
" I don't know what else to say." he said, and I left.

You know it is really sad, that when you get mad, and extremely irritated at the way other people are conducting themselves, it's pretty impossible, for me at least, to perform any walk on water miracles so far as making the situation better. This guy, through his General Manager, had fired Bob Kennedy, and, when contacted to see if he cared, had indicated no real knowledge of my skills, work habits, performance, or past achievements. He did remark that he thought I had looked slightly less than totally clean shavin' one day. He had had absolutely no conversation with me with regard to this case. The idea that HE was defending me in his actions ... was to me ... quite preposterous. But, I tell you, also, his actions might not have been considered so preposterous by a great many others, with whom I attempted to consult.
Lawyers? I made about 15 phone calls to various legal offices. I heard:
" We don't do defendants; we have a conflict of interest; I would not take your case on contingency on any cross complaint that I can conceive .... unlawful firing, sexual harassment, pick one or two from the plaintiff's list ... he did. I don't think you have a snowball's chance, but you can come into the office and we can discuss it more, if you like ... at $150.00 an hour; forget about it, you're off the hook; it didn't cost you anything.

A Reasonable Suggestion

I asked my attorney, at the end of a long conversation, if she wouldn't do me one favor. If she, and the insurance company, and the "employer," were getting together and having that conversation about writing a check to the plaintiff in this case. Just suggest that your client believed that it would be in his best interest, and, yours, that you write a check for the exact same amount to myself and my friend. It seemed only fair, although not even Naive Bob expected this attorney, to perform the requested action. Afterall ... who was the party really being harassed in this situation. I would say it was the employer ... and then the individuals named in this highly exaggerated and demonstrably erroneous complaint. We had been fired. No more of a hearing than whatever it is that you think an employer ought do. In my case, employer ought did NOTHING. I showed up for work one day, the check and the paperwork were in my hands. No conversation. No Nothing. The lady in question remained employed by this business, longer than I did.

"If you're planning on writing her a check for what she did, just tell them to write your client one as well." There was no chance that "our" attorney was going to perform that action. None ... She works for the insurance company. There the ones who are going to write the check. And they're not writing checks to defendants, falsely accused this millenium.

The Check's In The Mail

I received a certified letter in the mail the next day, including a badly xeroxed copy of the "settlement," and a letter from our attorney indicating that she had entered into this agreement on our behalf, and that now the case was settled. The plaintiff was going to get a check, and we were to keep our mouth shut ... no, how do you feel about that?

Now It's Your Turn
You know, there are probably a great many things that can be said about this incident. The important ones are " What do you say?" What do you think of the situation ... real life ... being described here? Is this the way you think things should work? What would you recommend we do about it? How? Are there any other incidents, similar to this one, that strike you as an example of "society" dealing with something ... all wrong? or all right?
Tell Us About Them

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Your Name:

Comments: ON THIS SUBJECT .... Or another ... it may be your pebble that starts the next ripple of conversation .... your ripple could become a WAVE ... the WAVE a GIANT COW PIE ... and maybe ... together we can all improve ...


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