Sexual Harassment: How to Find Out If Your Boss Is a Lech
Is your boss constantly making awkward comments that leave you feeling as if he's hitting on you? Did the person interviewing you seem to have a lot more in mind than just giving you a job? Do you believe that you'll be fired if you don't play along with inappropriate suggestions? Now there's a website where you can go to find out if your suspicions are well-founded. It's the National Sexual Harassment Registry on EBossWatch.com.
Simply type in the name of your boss, or your potential boss, and if there are any public sexual harassment suits filed against him or her, the details will come up in all their seedy glory. Be careful, however. You might end up finding out far more than you want to know. For example, the public record shows that one miserable dentist was:
"accused of referring to women as "whining b---h," propositioning one of the women for sex, and spanking the other woman repeatedly on the buttocks. The women, one of whom is black, also alleged that he made derogatory remarks about blacks... The EEOC also charged that one of the women was fired in retaliation or her complaints, and that the other woman was forced to quit because of ____'s abusive behavior."
Another reports that a woman was awarded $98,000 because her boss "invited her to 'watch pornographic films in his office on at least two separate occasions;' referred to her 'using derogatory epithets;' and that he constantly bragged "about his sexual conquests and prowess."
So where do they come up with this ugly stuff? According to site founder Asher Adelman, "We compile the information for the registry mainly by researching public court records and news media reports. In addition, we offer readers the opportunity to send us tips to research and consider for inclusion in the registry."
The site is basically a database and tool for "conducting searches to obtain publicly available information about people who have been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace," Adelman said, adding that it "was inspired by the FBI's National Sex Offender Registry, which tracks and provides information about registered sex offenders."
The site's catch phrase is "Nobody should have to work with a jerk."
Adelman says the site is supposed to work as a deterrent to bad bosses, and as a caution to those who work for them. "The eBossWatch National Sexual Harassment Registry sends a strong message to those intending to sexually harass their employees or coworkers that they will be publicly held accountable and will suffer serious consequences for their abusive actions," Adelman said. "Now anyone will be able to search our national database and will instantly know if their potential boss or job candidate has been the subject of a sexual harassment complaint."
Caren Goldberg, a management professor at American University whose primary research interests are in sexual harassment, said, "If used judiciously, the registry has the potential to help organizations minimize the likelihood of hiring a known harasser and to help applicants minimize the likelihood of taking a job at an organization where they wouldn't fit."
But what about bitter employees who just want to stir up trouble for innocent bosses? The site is closely monitored, according to Adelman, and details from the National Sexual Harassment Registry are taken exclusively from public record. There is one problem, however. In some cases only accusations are listed, and the outcomes are not always documented. So, if a boss was accused of sexual harassment and was found innocent, the findings will not necessarily be reported on EBossWatch's registry.
But the majority of sexual harassment complaints are settled in private, Adelman pointed out, so in order for the EEOC to take it on and for it to become public record, it usually has to be quite serious. And Adelman makes himself available to correct any perceived inequities.
Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.